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Jeff Chiu / AP

Amazon's Alexa, the voice-recognition digital service, is one of the fastest-growing tools that takes advantage of machine-learning capabilities. In a Deloitte analysis of 2017 tech trends released today , Amazon executives Maria Renz and Toni Reid gave some insight into Alexa's development. Since launching Echo in November 2014, Amazon has added more than 7,000 skills to Alexa, they said.

The original inspiration for the Amazon Echo was the Star Trek computer. We wanted to create a computer in the cloud that's controlled entirely by voice—you can ask it things, ask it to do things for you, find things for you, and it's easy to converse with in a natural way. We're not quite there yet, but that was our vision.
One of the key capabilities of Alexa, the voice and brain behind Echo, is that she's a cloud-based service that is always getting smarter, in both features and natural language understanding and with improved accuracy. Because her brain is in the cloud, she continually learns and adds more functionality, every hour, every day, which only makes it easier to innovate and add features on behalf of customers.

Why it matters: With Alexa and Echo, Amazon is trying to dominate how people interact with all the devices in their homes, cars and eventually offices. Alexa is also a prime example of how machine learning — or the process of automatically discovering patterns in data — are being used in consumer devices. As Deloitte points out, the data created by consumers doubles in size every year. So tools that can effectively sift through and analyze that data will be used in a number of different use cases, from hospitals to schools.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.