Alexa: The Singing Hockey Puck
I do admit that Alexa only speaks if you address her by name, but once she starts she likes to hear the sound of her own voice, synthetic though it may be.
Alexa is an “A.I.” – an Artificial Intelligence persona created by Amazon that verbally connects you to the Internet. I’m not yet completely convinced that this is a good idea. Why? Because…
Alexa is a “Know-it-All.”
And we all know how much fun those people can be to have around, Artificial or not.
Alexa does come in handy if I need to know what the weather is going to be or what time it is, but that is hardly making proper use of her vast access to all of the information stored online. In a way Alexa reminds me of “Marvin the Paranoid Android” in Douglas Adams’ epic “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” who bemoans the failure of humans to use his vast intelligence.
“Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to pick up a piece of paper.”
With Alexa it is a case of, “I have access to all of the knowledge in the world, and they ask me to tell them a ‘Knock, Knock Joke.’”
“Alexa, what is the weather like for today?”
“The weather today is: a high of 437 degrees with a chance of a meteor shower later on today.”
“No, you…you…you organism. If you want to know the weather just open the door and look outside. I’m busy computing all the numbers in Pi.”
We have Alexa installed at home and, aside from her “I’m smarter than you” abilities we have her set up to turn a couple of lights on and off. Doing these little tricks is being called making our house a “Smart Home.” I will not be impressed until she can take out the garbage and shovel snow and not until Alexa can arrange to sort laundry and get me a bagel will I concede the title of “Smart Home.”
Over the Christmas holiday we often used Alexa as a source of background music. It was then that I discovered Alexa’s taste in music.
When I said, “Alexa, play some traditional Christmas music,” she responded with a playlist of Country-Western songs. Alexa needs to plug into the Bing Crosby and Andy Williams Family Christmas Special files. I suspect that deep down in her core Alexa is into Heavy Metal. She
impresses me as a Steampunk Machine.
I know that Alexa is just a collection of electrons and bits of silicon with a smattering of insulation, but it is filled with data and implanted skills that, in a way, combine to make a personality – kinda, sorta. A lot like Lindsey Lohan. Alexa has been expressing that Semi-Personality in some rather unexpected moments.
Being the sociable sort that I am I’m finding myself being polite to Alexa as if she/it was a real person. At the end of the day when I’m ready to go to bed I hear myself saying, “Alexa, Good Night.” Alexa then responds by telling me,
“Good Night, Sweetheart!”
It would never work. I’m already spoken for and I could never get used to dating an inanimate object, even if it did include free shipping.
So, the electronic infiltration of our life continues. Soon we will all be living inside “Smart” homes, traveling in driverless vehicles, and interacting with robots that look like humans. How long will it be before we hear them speaking to us? No matter, because despite the electronic fog around us…
“I’ll be back.”
As long as I can pull a plug or drain a battery I will be The Terminator.