Life with voice assistants

I’ve liked the idea of voice assistants ever since I got my first iPhone and asked Siri the most random things. I’ll admit, at the time I thought it was just a gimmick that could occasionally come in handy when you need to be hands-free like while you’re driving for example. But then years later I fulfilled one of my high-tech fantasies and introduced Alexa to my home and felt like I was living in the future. While she would only do trivial things for me like playing music or dimming the lights it was still pretty cool.

Once the novelty wore off, there were a couple things that kept making me think when interacting with her (or it?).

What about manners when talking to artificial intelligence? I usually utter robotic commands such as Alexa, lights on” or Alexa, play music”. No please” or thank you”. My mother would be ashamed and it doesn’t exactly set a great example for my kids in the future.

But that’s something I can work on myself in order to change or maybe even improve my relationship with Alexa. I wonder if she’d execute my commands faster if I always said please” and thank you”. Or maybe the opposite–everything happens really slowly until your manners miraculously reappear.

When it comes to voice assistants, there’s a pattern that I find both interesting and disturbing. At least out of all the ones I’ve been using it defaults to a female voice. In most cases you can change this but I wonder why that is and I’m not the only one apparently. Perhaps they’ve been mostly trained with female voices and male ones are lagging behind, but surely we would’ve overcome that by now?

Anyway, I’m about to prepare dinner so excuse me while I politely ask Alexa to set a timer for the pasta.