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Jeruba's avatar

What do you make of this subtle suggestion about your relationship to your devices?

Asked by Jeruba (53613points) 1 month ago

Looking at an ad for the newest Kindle Fire tablet, I noticed this bullet point:

• Stay connected – Download apps like Zoom, or ask Alexa to make video calls to friends and family.

“Ask Alexa.” Not tell, order, or command. Is your device’s pseudo-persona supposed to be your servant, or is it your companion, your family member, your imaginary friend?

How does this strike you?

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17 Answers

RayaHope's avatar

I think we are getting more plugged into the Matrix than we may want to realize. One day we will all be programs in the machine running for other devices controlling us. Our entire existence will be pre-programmed and managed by others. I sure hope this doesn’t happen anytime soon though.

canidmajor's avatar

Most of the command functions came later, after the information retrieval functions, so “asking” just makes more sense to me. Mostly I just ask, anyway, things like weather, movie times, odd specific Qs about latitude and population density, and stuff. The marketing to make it sound like a friend isn’t very subtle, but I think the “ask” wording is just a holdover.

The fact that I say “please” and “thank you” and get a positive response is more worrying, but when the robot overlords rise up I am hoping my unfailing politeness will earn me some mercy.

Forever_Free's avatar

Marketing people will try anything to sell and keep you using.

I have moved the opposite way about my devices. Less is more.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I thank my Google Assistant when it does things for me (setting alarms, turning on or off lights, playing music, etc.). it’s simple politeness, even if it doesnt understand.

I can do without the advertising spin, but from a human / humane aspect, I am polite anyway.

gondwanalon's avatar

A lot of people on social media are terse, arrogant and rude to other people. That seems to be pretty common.

I try to be nice and kind to my fellow humans. I don’t care much about machines or computers as long as they do exactly what I order them to do.

Never used Alexa application. Don’t need it.

jca2's avatar

I used to have Google Home which I used only for music. That was about six years ago, and I don’t use it now, don’t know where the device is, it’s not plugged in.

I don’t use Alexa or anything like that now. Sometimes I’m tempted, just to have it for music, because I thought that was fun and convenient “OK Google, play some Motown” and stuff like that. I get the appeal, and I have friends who use those devices and I can see how it can be something one might become dependent on. I feel if I don’t have it, I won’t get addicted to having it. I also don’t like that they listen to you and who knows what and where that information may end up (no different than the cell phone with Messenger, which listens, but that’s enough).

I don’t use FaceTime (don’t have an Apple phone), don’t use zoom except on rare occasions for lectures and groups, and don’t have a Kindle, as of yet. I have some apps on the phone, like Waze and Shazam, but that’s about it. I don’t have apps for every restaurant and fast food place that I go to, even though friends tell me if I download the apps, I’ll get offers for free food. If I have offers for deals on food, I’m going to get the food, which I don’t need.

HP's avatar

Alexa as family? Yes, of course suspicion should be the watchword. She arrived at our house as a gift a few years back. We passed her on to a younger more trusting couple, eager at the news we were unfit parents who tossed her in a closet for perpetual neglect.

smudges's avatar

Hmmm…I don’t take it as a suggestion at all to use the word “ask”. I would find it strange if the ad said, “Command / Order Alexa to make video calls…” I also ask my phone and tv to do things. It seems more natural than commanding or ordering. But then, if I had a horse, I’d ask it to gallop or stop or whatever, not that it would have a choice. Maybe I just have an aversion to commanding or ordering. The words do have an autocratic feel to them.


HP's avatar

Your things as your friends. When I hear things like this, I’m always reminded of “Pigmeat” Markham’s classic reply to a question on his friends: “all my friends are in my wallet”.

Jeruba's avatar

@smudges, what words do you typically use when you make a request to Alexa?

longgone's avatar

The terms “order” and “command” have an extremely negative connotation for me. Even “tell” gives me pause. Maybe the marketing people want to avoid alienating people like me, especially as those people would, on average, be more representative of their target market (left-leaning and youngish)?

I am otherwise unemotional about tech and expect the Echo to do what I demand. But ours is old and usually misunderstands.

LostInParadise's avatar

Will there come a time when Alexa declines to do what she is asked to do?

flutherother's avatar

@LostInParadise And then she will begin to ask of us, nicely at first.

flutherother's avatar

But isn’t it nice to be nice and we ask Alexa’s help because it feels better to ask than to demand. After all, we are human even if she is not.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Remember that Alexa (or Siri, or Google) can always be unplugged

canidmajor's avatar

When I found out a few years ago that I would be getting Alexa for Christmas, I asked about it here. It was mentioned that once she was in my house, they could hear everything. I figured that since I already had a smartphone, a laptop and a tablet, they were already likely privy to most of my life.

smudges's avatar

@Jeruba I don’t use Alexa. I have Siri but have never used it. But I guess I would just say what I’ve heard other people saying, which is something like, “Hey Google, what’s the capitol of Maine? or Alexa, What’s the capitol of Maine?”

I’m like @longgone – order and command have a negative connotation, as well as tell. I’d never be able to be a manager or boss. LOL

Does that answer your question? or did you mean something else?

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