Remember 5 years ago when Apple released Siri and everybody thought it was amazing?
For 2 minutes.
Which was the time it took to realise that Siri:
a/ Didn’t understand what the hell you were saying half the time.
b/ Was embarrassing to use in public. “Siri, is my mole cancerous?”
Somehow Amazon felt otherwise and decided to release their own Siri, with the somewhat more human (but no less robotic sounding) name of Alexa.
There are about a million complaints I have about Alexa. But since we’re on the subject of the name, let’s start there.
Why does every company have to give their female helper a name that sounds like an evil computer from a sci-fi novel? (Let’s not forget Microsoft’s “Cortana”)
Is it so we all feel like we’re living in the future? Or do they just assume that eventually their computer voices will try to take over the world, so they might as well have a name to match.
If they’d used the named Maureen instead, I’d probably feel a little more positive about the future. I can’t imagine a computer called Maureen trying to destroy the human race. But I can easily imagine Alexa turning my wifi connected toaster into a bomb to kill me.
I guess the name Maureen wouldn’t be the best for marketing purposes. But at least it would help me sleep at night.
Unlike Alexa who literally tries to fuck with my sleep when she can.
I like to fall asleep to nature sounds. They soothe me to sleep. Sometimes Alexa likes to help. Other times this happens:
“Alexa, play some nature sounds.”
“Shuffling songs by Justin Timberlake”
The real issue with Alexa is the same as Siri all those years ago. She doesn’t understand what I’m saying half the time. (Although really, you could call this a success because real human beings in American have the same problem.)
Each attempt I have at using Alexa ends in frustration. Here are a few other exchanges I’ve had with her:
Alexa, what time is it?
I think you want to know about the following news article: researchers in England have discovered that rats laugh when tickled…
Alexa, set an alarm for seven thirty.
Is that AM or PM?
No wait, it doesn’t matter.
Alarm set for twelve o’clock PM.
Apple and Amazon love to sell us the idea that these voice activated women are the future, but the truth is they’re both glorified egg timers. Not even good egg timers either. Really shitty ones.
Alexa, twenty five minute timer.
Timer set for fifty minutes.
Ninety percent of the time, that’s all I use Alexa for. To keep track of how long something is in the oven.
This is my main problem with many “amazing” technologies. They’re mostly useless. It’s all well and good having voice activation, but when all it can activate is music or a timer, it’s all a bit pointless.
Alexa can’t do anything that I could do myself with a little bit of effort. Since every time I want her to do something, I have to ask her about twelve times, I often think. “Never mind, I’ll just do it myself.”
The dream is that one day I can just say, “Alexa, make my dinner” or “Alexa, do my work” and Alexa will do it for me. But, I fear the truth is that businesses will just cut out the middle man and get Alexa to do the work instead of me. (Or Alexa will make my dinner and eat it for herself.)
So Alexa is bound to turn out evil, like they planned all along.
If only they’d called her Maureen instead.