Please Alexa?

First impressions of Amazon echo
 
This weekend I went to a friends house party and I met Alexa for the first time.

She was reasonably chatty, if a bit brisk. She gets things done, in an alarmingly efficient manner, but wasn’t really one for niceties.
 
Alexa wasn’t a friend of my friend, nor a child along for the ride — but a ‘smart gadget’ for your home, one invented by Amazon (no this isn’t an advert, promise)
 
So i’m there fascinated to witness Alexa’s party tricks. She tells you when the next train is, she dims the lights (thanks to wifi enabled light bulbs), plays your favourite song via spotify, add items to your shopping list (not more photographing the chalk board), tells you random facts, and can even order you a pizza. I have flash backs to watching the TV show ‘Humans’ and the film ‘Her’ that I watched not so long ago. Alexa’s owner (or should that be companion?) joked that his colleagues described her his new girlfriend when she arrived in the post the other day.

I’ve known this technology has been around for a while — but hadn’t seen it in a ‘normal’ persons home. And what I could really start to see and understand was how our interaction with these gadgets is likely to have a massive influence on our language (amongst many other things).
 
You have to be very assertive to get her attention. There’s no room, or no need for the ‘please’, ‘thank yous’, ‘would you mind if’s’ that are pepper our verbal interactions.
 
 “Alexa, add apples to my shopping list”
 “Alexa, when is the next train to London”. 
 
Alexa’s owner told us a little annecdote that shows the influence Alexa is having on his 2.5 year old daughter. They came down to breakfast and he commanded:
 
 “Alexa, play Sorry by Justin Bieber”
 
Breakfast gets off to a great start, tunes in the background, nothing remarkable about that. But later they get into the car, his daughter shouts at the radio to “play Just Bieber”, she’s not het old enough to realise that this technology isn’t quiet so prevalent it follows us around. Although I’m sure it won’t be that long until it is.
 
This is just a little annecdote — but over time and cumulatively, it’s bound to have a profound effect on how we communicate with each other, what we come to expect, who we rely on and how our language evolves. Not to even mention what it means for gender sterotypes…but that’s another (longer) blog.

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