Virtual servants…or is it virtual servitude?

An intro to a 9 minute read on conversational UI including Amazon Alexa and MindMeld…

Alexa, Welcome!

When Dave and I received our Amazon Echo a few months ago we were pretty impressed. Set up was a breeze — even with my strongest kiwi accent, Alexa understood what I said most of the time. We experienced the initial delight, suffused with a little wonder, of being able to converse with our invisible and ever present virtual servant. We did all the usual things like setting timers and alarms. Every five minutes the kids would drive us crazy by asking Alexa to tell them a joke. They never seemed to tire of this feature, and she didn’t tire of them either.

But it wasn’t that simple. What felt like a whole new paradigm of how I interacted with my digital life now felt a little manipulated, even a little sinister, or at least made sci-fi feel like non-fi. She did a good job of making me feel like she worked for me but of course she actually worked for Amazon. And that meant that whenever I followed a recommendation from her, I was working for Amazon too. I realized that my digital world, which had initially felt more open through this seamless conversation, had, in fact, shrunk and become more constrained.

…read more via subscription on…

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.