UBC computer scientists have turned Amazon Alexa into a tool for software engineers, tasking the virtual assistant to take care of mundane programming tasks, helping increase productivity and speed up workflow.
Software engineers use many different tools for any one project. They work with millions of lines of computer code and run their code through various independent tools to help edit, build and test systems and for project management to get their programs running smoothly.
“It can be quite complicated to switch between the different tools because they each use a unique syntax and you have to understand how to put them together,” said Nick Bradley, who led this work during his master’s research in computer science at UBC. “The idea to use Alexa came out of my frustration from using these different tools and having to spend so much time looking up how to do it and use those tools together.”
Bradley and computer science professors Reid Holmes and Thomas Fritz decided to test whether Amazon’s virtual assistant could help with this process. They wanted software engineers to use simple, conversational language to ask Alexa to complete some of their tasks, the same way we ask it to give us the weather forecast or play our favourite songs.
Researchers said it was more than just a matter of teaching Alexa some key phrases and mapping different commands to the work, they also had to figure out common multi-step tasks engineers were performing and build a system that could automate those tasks. They then asked 21 engineers from local Vancouver software companies to test out their system and evaluate it. While the engineers found the tool useful and provided lots of positive feedback, there was one challenge.
“The biggest problem was using voice commands in an office environment—they found it distracting to their neighbours,” said Bradley.
The computer scientists’ next development will be to create a chat bot to fulfill a similar function so engineers can type minimal requests and have the system perform their multi-step tasks so they can focus on the more important parts of their jobs.
Holmes says this research is part of a larger effort to understand how software engineers do their jobs.
“The pace of change in the software field is so fast that engineers don’t have time to be introspective and think about the way they work,” he said. “Our job in academia is to step back and really think about how we can better support engineers to quickly and correctly build the kinds of software we depend upon in our modern society. Systems keep getting larger and more complex and using personal assistants could be one way to help developers be more effective within this fast-paced environment.”
The researchers also recognize that these virtual assistants could be programmed for a variety of occupations including medicine, law, or accounting.
“You can imagine a situation where a lawyer is reading a legal brief and asks Alexa to find relevant cases on similar topics to help with research,” said Holmes.
The Latest on: Virtual assistant
via Google News
The Latest on: Virtual assistant
- Alphabet Introduces Accents for Google Assistant in U.S. on December 18, 2018 at 4:31 am
Bolstering Presence in the Virtual Assistant Space Alphabet ventured into the home assistant space in 2016 with the launch of Google Home, which runs on Google’s voice assistant. Moreover, as voice is ... […]
- Health Intelligent Virtual Assistant market insights shared in detailed report on December 18, 2018 at 4:30 am
Global Virtual Assistant Market Research Report 2018 is a professional and depth research report on Global Intelligent evacuation system industry. Global Health Intelligent Virtual Assistant Market sh... […]
- Google Assistant Can Now Inform You About Predicted Flight Delays on December 18, 2018 at 4:18 am
Already available via Google Flights, these artificial intelligence-powered flight delay predictions are now rolling out to the web giant's virtual assistant. Over the coming weeks, Google ... […]
- This virtual writing assistant acts as your at-home copy-editor on December 17, 2018 at 8:58 am
Being able to write well is quickly becoming less of an asset and more of a necessity. The way you write is how you communicate your ideas and abilities to other people. And when it comes to communica... […]
- Intelligent Virtual Assistant Market - Increasing Deployment of Intelligent Virtual Assistant in Retail Sector to Enhance Growth on December 17, 2018 at 2:46 am
The global intelligence virtual assistant market is highly fragmented in nature with a presence of a large number of players operating in it across the globe, states a new market research study. Some ... […]
- The Latest in Virtual-Assistant Technology on December 14, 2018 at 11:07 am
“Broad City” ’s Abbi Jacobson and “Silicon Valley” ’s Zach Woods, now together in “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” tackle The New Yorker’s cartoon-caption contest. […]
- Can Virtual Assistants Eliminate EHR Usability Pain Points? on December 14, 2018 at 8:11 am
The ubiquity of EHR technology in healthcare has done little to improve its reputation among its users. Despite efforts from federal regulators, industry associations, and healthcare leaders ... […]
- Start 2019 Like a PR Ninja: New Program Win-Win for Virtual Assistants & Clients on December 13, 2018 at 4:03 pm
Just in time for the new year, comes a public relations training program that will give start-ups and small businesses easier access to services and allow virtual assistants to head into 2019 feeling ... […]
- Here's Why You Need to Hire a Virtual Assistant in 2019 on December 13, 2018 at 9:29 am
Even highly productive people don't become successful on their own. The smartest ones get more done every day--and still find time for themselves!--by accepting a little help from their (virtual) frie... […]
via Bing News