We have had many discussions with people both for and against having “Alexa” at home or in the office. Black Friday decided us for the small Echo Dot in the end. I mean, HALF PRICE!
Alexa took a few days to train – whether she was training us or we were training her is up for debate of course – but within a few days she replaced our tablet and radio as a source for music and audio books. Hmmm … She is faster than the phone or laptop at supplying us with general information. Our shopping list app can be updated by one person while the other is already at the shops. We can order with voice command on amazon. It is an interesting gadget, but you already feel the urge for the next generation that can anticipate your commands … “You seem pensive. Would you like to hear some jazz?”
We turn Alexa off when we don’t need her. Much like asking the servants to leave the room before the port is served. We will give her a few weeks yet before we check to see if facebook serves Ads to us about things we have simply talked about buying in her presence. We have tried a few commands without success and wonder why she either is not learning, or why amazon failed to consider adding a command or two. We still have to prepare the food amazon pantry delivers, and the kids still have to go to school to get their education. I wonder though, when we will lose our ability to lift our arms and will rely simply on basic commands to survive. PLAY, BUY, STOP, SHUFFLE. Probably a few generations away but not out of the realm of possibility.
AI is aimed at improving our lives, giving us access to information, barrier-free. I guess for me, going forward, the question will be “information provided by whom, with what agenda, and at what price?” The Supreme Dalek arrived beneath the Christmas tree this year, and after we exhausted Alexa with a barrage of trivia I asked her Who the Supreme Dalek was? Her answer: “Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936 … ” :o)
Interesting article: WIRED.com Why Artifical Intelligence is not like Your Brain – Yet
Interesting article: Opinion: Don’t Give Kids Holiday Gifts That Can Spy on Them