Give Alexa a brain!

So I’ve been “living” with Alexa for a while now and sometimes I wish it could interpret my words better. Yes, yelling commands at the speaker is fun, but having it react to what I am saying is even better.

Here are some of the ways I’d like Alexa to react to:

I am cold/hot…(and it’ll automatically adjust the temperature)
The TV is too loud (and it’ll turn down the volume of my TV)
I cannot hear the TV (and it’ll turn up the volume on my TV)
Is dark in here (and it’ll increase the brightness or turn on the lights)
I need to replace the HVAC filters in 60 days (and will schedule a reminder to notify me in 60 days)

Post away your common phrases that you wish Alexa could interpret…

PS…yes, some of these will be featured in the v3 of the EchoSistant app…


Replace “Alexa” with my name, and replace yourself with my wife as the author…and I’ve heard this before.


If “they” were able to “train” us, then we can certainly train our speakers. :slight_smile:


I’m retired, the boss still works. I’ve got the “Automatic” device on her car and it’s handy at times. My Sonos announces when she made it to work & when she left work (gives me an idea when to start dinner) & if I need to fill her car with gas (which I did at 5am this morning). So!

Where’s my wife?

How much gas do I have?


Ask Alexa you can set custom statements.

I have ones like

“Alexa, tell smartthings to open shades halfway”
“Alexa, tell smartthings I am going to bed”

Ironically, it is the simple request that is the most difficult to program without some learning algorithm. For example, just the statement “I am cold/hot…(and it’ll automatically adjust the temperature)” is relative to the user…my wife complained she was cold this morning, but I was warm…so when Alexa (who can’t differentiate between people) hears that, it adjusts the temperature…but, how much is enough? 5 degrees? 10?

Bottom line, a lot of this is doable for someone who a) lives by themselves, b) has a rather consistent life…but even then it requires some back-end logic that, at the end of the day, only ends up being correct 50% of the time.


Nest w/Alexa has the command:
“Alexa, increase the “thermostat name” temperature by 4 degrees.”

Been thinking about having ask Alexa when someone says I am cold bump it up by 2 degrees. I


Oh, I know, but it is still a fun way to play…I remember we’ve had this discussion before, and I know how you and @N8XD feel about giving Alexa a “brain” …But …I do like to toy with this idea once in a while…

I don’t think Alexa or Google Home will ever give this level of “AI”…I actually feel we are about 5 to 10 years away before this is a reality…we can SIMULATE AI at this point, but it is just a lot of IF/THEN statements in the code :slight_smile:

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Again, I have not been in the " programming mood" to play with EchoSsistent , but if I remember correctly ( Old timers disease and all that ) couldn’t you put custom commands into AskAlexa ? " Alexa tell Odyssey ________ " and it would know to execute command "____________ "

Not without altering @MichaelS 's code…I do have most of those mentioned in my initial post working now in askAlexa (sorry Michael I butchered your app) but I am greedy by nature :smile: so I want more…

Alexa isn’t a brain. It isn’t intuitive. It isn’t smart.

It’s a device with code that executed other code based on use input and predetermined outcomes to those inputs.

So, what we need…

Your inputs.

  • How do you want to talk to Alexa?
  • How do you want her to respond to you?

All without massive setup and manipulation by the user… (not counting initial install of software)

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I think the problem here is not the calculating power, nor the ability of the system to act on various sensor inputs…its a bad idea for a home automation system to make wild guesses based on inputs that don’t exist and limits that haven’t been set. Once you create those “rules” and install devices to sense those things…you no longer need the “wild guess” part. Saying you want to be obtuse, and tell alexa, “I’m hot” doesn’t mean turn down the heat, nor turn on the air conditioner, nor open the windows and let the winter snow in, nor I’m having a hot flash that will be gone by the time you cool things down…unless you pre-define what you want the HA to do. And that just takes rules, not AI.

AI becomes useful when the rules are so complex its tough to define and maintain them all - and to incorporate learning from your habits. You can simplify things by using fuzzy logic. Raining(40%) and DinnerTime(70%) and OutdoorTempHigherThanIndoor(20%) and ArrivedLessThan30MinutesAgo(100%) and AlwaysAsksforCoolDown10minutesLater( 80%) etc…to create a final percent. Then define what that percent means. 0% to 39% ignore the user, they’ll get over it. 40 to 75% open the windows, 76 to 100% turn on the AC.


You can tell who has failed to heed the lessons presented in this fine temporally non-linear historical documentary:


Alexa, set the office lights to 85%. //Yes, she already does this…
Alexa, set the office lights back. //She sets them to what they were before I change it…


I like that!!!

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Or… Take the wild guess out of it and the fuzzy logic… Just treat it for what it is… A program…

Alexa, it’s cold in the living room.
I understand, would you like me to turn up the thermostat set point?
No, turn on the fireplace for ten minutes.
Ok, I’m turning on the fireplace and it will turn off in ten minutes.

Simple inputs and output based on programming…

It can be programmed to represent AI… That’s all it can do… Because it’s not AI.

ha…and yet simpler…why bother saying it’s cold…just say “turn on the fireplace for ten minutes”…where the fuzzy logic becomes valuable is when there is feedback loops on things like how fast the temperature drops when you open the windows, or how fast the room heats up when you turn on the fireplace. The real problem with saying your hot or cold is that there is no way for the computer to measure the way “you feel” and include cause and effect of heating or cooling a room into the loop of how you feel, unless you tell it later. Then it can think…well last time he was cold, I did this and 15 minutes later he felt warm. Which may or may not work the second time…so it has to be tested again and again over time until some kind of pattern develops.

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What IS artificial intelligence if not a machine programed by humans to artificially mock their intelligence. Or in other words, what you just described muahhaahhh…


Actually, it is AI. What it is not is “I”.

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