Amazon Alexa

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

28 September 2018

Amazon Alexa and good manners

Anyone else thinking this generation of kids could use a bit of behavior adjustment? I think there is a place for Amazon Alexa in all of this. But I digress.

I have two grandkids. And I have to say that it amazes me how different their life is from my own childhood.

I remember my first foray into computers. The interfaces were complex, and the screen consisted of rolling text and a curser. I subscribed to a service called The Source.

Fitted with my terrible slow modem, I could connect to a larger world. By subscription of course.

Seems to me, I could read the St Louis newspaper. I have no idea why. I lived in NJ at the time.

Amazon Alexa is only a part of the change

My grandkids have never read the owner’s manual for their parent’s iPads. But they negotiate them with aplomb. Same is true for all the technology in the house.

This brings me back to my Amazon Alexa point.

I wired my home with Alexa. That means it is technically unwired. I control my music, radio, and content by voice. Alexa responds to every command.

Occasionally, I actually thank Alexa for turning on my Sirius station or giving me an update on the weather. Crazy? Probably. But manners were de rigueur when I was a kid. When someone did something for me I thanked them. It was a rule.

“The voice of Amazon Alexa sounds like an adult female to me. I would love good manners reinforced by technology. Somehow it feels wrong to have a five-year old barking orders to adults.”

Enter grandkids

So, I’m home working on my Mac and listening to Van Morrison or someone else whose time has passed. I ask Amazon Alexa to switch artists. Change stations and play selections from everything from Debussy to Springsteen. Occasionally I even listen to show tunes.

Amazon AlexaThat all changes when my granddaughter Rhegan (aged 5) and grandson Liam (age 3) come for a visit. Suddenly Amazon Alexa is playing Raining Tacos.

“Alexa, play Raining Tacos,” Rhegan commands in her loudest five-year-old voice. Without a hiccup, my music world is upside down. Alexa does as she is told.

Teaching moment

I would love to have a setting on Amazon Alexa that instructed it (her) to be mannerly. Reinforce what Mark and Janis (their parents) teach them every day. You know the routine — “Rhegan, what do you say to Pop-Pop? “

To which she answers, “Thank you, Pop-Pop”.

How hard would it be for Alexa to ignore commands that do not include a polite thank you and a query that starts with PLEASE?

I can hear it now. “Alexa, play Raining Tacos.”

Alexa — “What do you say?”

“Please.”

And the music stops. If it is not followed by “Thank you.”

The voice of Amazon Alexa sounds like an adult female to me. I would love good manners reinforced by technology. Somehow it feels wrong to have a five-year old barking orders to adults.

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