Sunday, February 04, 2018

If Digital Assistants Were Real

Amazon's Alexa favors late-60s fashion and style; she considers her work a profession, on a par with being a paralegal.  She's in her late twenties to early thirties. She has a deadpan sense of humor and a mad crush on some DJ you've never heard of.  When you call her for help, she was waiting on the call -- possibly filing or handling correspondence, studying or listening to music, because she's always busy -- and she's instantly ready to assist.  Probably drives a Miata. Considers Della Street (Perry Mason's secretary) a role model.

     Apple's Siri has rainbow-dyed hair, dresses like a skater, and was doing something more interesting when you interrupted.  She's a bit of a smart-alec and is so young you wonder if she should be working.  But she knows everything and she knows that she knows -- and that you don't.  Nevertheless, she's happy to help you out. Commutes on a skateboard.  Has read every William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman novel.

     Google's Assistant is an assemblage of electronic parts that looks remarkably human most of the time.  Help or just sit there, all the same to it; but it is indeed helpful and most of the time, you want to call it he or she; then the light shifts and you remember it's just a collection of parts and clever coding.  It cries, quietly, when it is sure no one is looking.

     Microsoft's Cortana, seen from the proper angle, appears to be a paperclip with eyes.  It is worried you will notice this.

14 comments:

Carteach said...

Lol.... Yup

Merle Morrison said...

Which one do you use? I have "none of the above" in my home.

Merle

Roberta X said...

We have Alexas in the kitchen and office, where they can't listen to TV or get up to much harm.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Your Cortana is spot-on.

Monty James said...

And every day she conscientiously uploads everything she's collected to her employer. Do you know if the Alexa far field technology, enabling it to listen to every room in the house, is supposed to be a hardware or software upgrade, or both?

It doesn't really mean very much to point that out; I'm writing this on a laptop connected to the Internet, after all.

Rich in NC said...

No wonder. When I went to figure out what a Cortana was, I had multiple TL;DR flashes strung one right after another. I didn't like [like is such a soft word] that paperclip when it was first introducted (sic) into the universe, and I've not yet changed my mind.

Borepatch said...

LOL.

And it will be a cold day when one of these gets installed at Castle Borepatch. I don't have any confidence in the security of the system/back-end, and I have *NO* confidence in the privacy of any of the data.

D.W. Drang said...

And Bixby got whacked and dumped in a ditch...


(Really, Samsung, that thing was annoying enough, why did you have to name it after a respected actor who died too young?)

Roberta X said...

I want to know what it is people are talking about that they're worried Amazon will overhear. Tam and I are probably atypical, but we're pretty dull listening. "You want an egg this morning?"
"Just bacon."
"Coffee? I'm filling a thermos for work, should I make another pot for here?"
"Yeah, I have articles to finish."

Merle Morrison said...

Unless you are up to no good, what I see is another case of "loss of privacy" and am opposed to it on general principal.

Merle

EdB said...

"I want to know what it is people are talking about that they're worried Amazon will overhear..."

Absent Lavrentiy Beria then we have nothing to be concerned about.....

Roberta X said...

It unplugs, you know. And -- at least so far -- Mr. Bezos is not the government. Like C. S. Lewis, I have more faith -- not much! -- in robber barons than do-gooders.

Privacy is *dead.* Unless you go live like the Unabomber. Might as well get the good along with the bad.

Roberta X said...

Merle: would you rather be listened to by robots or people? Because that's the choice. NSA can monitor your cellphone mike any time they like.

D.W. Drang said...

I lament the days of removable cell phone batteries...

I have seen at least one news item about someone's Alexa or Siri overhearing a conversation and mistaking it for a command, although it wasn't so high profile that I remember details beyond that.