Smart Speakers: I Know My Place

A cartoon picture of HAL from 2001, WOPR from WarGames, and an Amazon Echo parodying the Cleese, Barker, and Corbett Class Sketch. By Oddball Times

Today I called out…

“Alexa, play Demon Seed and tell me the dictionary definition of irony”

…my Amazon Echo didn’t answer. Maybe because it didn’t understand the command or maybe because I was attempting a Scottish-Punjabi accent, maybe it was because I’d just ingested helium, or maybe because I’d forgotten that I actually have a Google Home and it doesn’t answer to “Alexa”.

Regardless of the problem, I think you’ll agree that these so-called “smart speakers” aren’t that smart. Whether you have an Amazon Echo, a Google Home, or an Apple HomePod, these devices aside from being an intelligence agencies’ wet-dream, have yet to be of any great use. Does it really take that much effort to play music or make a to-do list that we require intelligent personal assistants?

If I’m going to place a self-surveilling piece of tech in my house, I want it to be a lot more life-like; you know, maybe laugh at my jokes, have mood swings, a few arguments, say a few xenophobic comments after reading out headlines from The Daily Mail, and maybe instigate a nuclear war… you know, be more human. You smart speakers have far to come.

“Google, who would win in a fight between Proteus IV, HAL 9000, WOPR, Skynet, Colossus, and the human race?”…the damn thing didn’t respond.

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