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Yandex’s launches AI assistant with “near-human levels of speech recognition accuracy”

Dubbed ‘Alice,F this new AI assistant integrates the ability to “carry free-flowing ‘chit-chat’ conversations with users that can surprise and delight them.”

Nov 04, 2017
Defining itself as "a technology company that builds intelligent products and services powered by machine learning," Yandex has announced the launch of a conversational intelligent assistant that is "not restricted to a set of predefined scenarios."

Its "human-like responses" demonstrate "superior Russian language skills, a distinct personality with a sense of humor, and an ability to understand incomplete phrases and questions," according to the Russian search giant.

Designed for the Russian market, the assistant integrates multiple services to help users efficiently accomplish tasks such as finding information online, recommending places to eat, providing weather forecasts, and supplying directions.

Alice uses deep neural networks trained on massive datasets, according to the company, allowing users to interact like they would with another person. Alice has advanced understanding of context, so when a user asks a question like "Where can I grab a coffee nearby?" the assistant recommends a local café. If the user responds, "Great, how can I get there?" Alice provides directions on Yandex.Maps.

"In developing Alice, we leveraged our speech technologies, which currently provide the world’s most accurate Russian language recognition. Based on word error rate (WER) measurements, Alice demonstrates near-human levels of speech recognition accuracy," said Denis Filippov, head of Speech Technologies at Yandex.

Alice’s voice recognition and synthesis rely on SpeechKit, Yandex’s proprietary speech recognition toolkit. Currently, Alice integrates Yandex services, such as Search, News, Weather, Music, and Maps. This list will expand to other Yandex services, such as Taxi, as well as third-party products and services.

Alice is now available in Russian in the Yandex Search app on iOS and Android, as well as in a beta version of Yandex Assistant for Windows. Alice will also soon be integrated in Yandex.Browser, followed by other Yandex products.