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Alexa! Stop the world I want to get off!'

Added: Monday, February 11th 2019 at 2:34pm by ColinP
Related Tags: artificial, robots, future

Response to Timo Peach's Unsee the Future article January 2018


Having spent the New Year with 'Alexa' and experienced the incredible ability to absorb a 'voice activated' existence, my sociological/psychological/educational/behaviouristal (damn the English language!!!!) self has been challenged indeed.

In the last couple years I have introduced a 20 minute rule of resisting 'searching' for the answer if I (or any of my personal company) KNOW the answer - you know the thang:

"Oh what else was she in?" 

"He was in thingy with doobrie wotsit wasn't he?!" 

Having seen and experienced the slow and frustrating demise of my dear old Pa at the ripe old age of 92, memory loss and cranial activity have been on my mind (ha!) for a while now. Dad did the Sunday Express crossword every week and his well fingered Encyclopedia's have pride of place on the bookshelf at me Mum's, so what would he make of it all:

"Alexa, what would me Dad have thought of all this AI stuff ?"

"I'm sorry, I don't know the answer to that question"

Oh so you can: 

"Alexa Lounge 20%" turn the Echo lightbulbs down. You can even

"Alexa - bedroom purple" (know what Im saying!!!!!)

"Alexa, play {Insert song title} by {artist} (often not the other way round?)

You know the square root of 564, but............. you don't know it if I get too detailed or too radical????

At least you don't ply me with adverts

"Skip Ad Alexa" 

"only after 5 seconds"

but you don't ACTUALLY know what I think and I might just be messing with YOUR melon, eh?!

The implications of staying on the couch all afternoon until a teasmaid-bot is developed, that won't spill the tea if the cat runs towards it or the Axminster rug gets in the way, just doesn't bear thinking about.

And what if I have a degree of paranoia and start getting very anxious of having someone else in the flat.................but wait...............!

Imagine my dear old Mum faced with a day on her own (it doesn't happen often honest!) waking up (no cat or dog or goldfish in the house!) and being able to say: 

"Good morning Alexa"

"Alexa What's the weather today?"

"Alexa What's the news?"

"Alexa play me Charles Aznavour singing 'She' " "I'm sorry, I don't know that song"

"Alexa play me 'She' by Charles Aznavour"

(Holds nose and wobbles throat to sing "She may be the one that I adore!")

So, the challenge is to balance the application-the implication and the demands of need and want (if I need to get off my butt and find out, do that thang, then I have to do it! I have to at least 'try' and remember, not have a default reflex that says "Alexa!" or "Google it" "Yahoo!" etc. or surely we will all become "Siri-idiots!" as (was it Benny Hill?) used to say.

The coming generations will no more be able to comprehend going to the Library and ordering a book, waiting upto 6 weeks to research a specific point for a project (ooh I used to love a good project!) than carrying your portable record player round to your friends and sharing this new Rock n Roll chappie with the kiss curl Bill Haley (an equally revolutionary development in popular music history).

"Alexa, play Momotempo "All that Love Could Be"

"I'm sorry, I don't know that song"


"Alexa, play "All that Love Could Be by Momotempo"



"You silly sausage"


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