The box addressed to the S.O. from Lowes Home Improvement arrived some time in late October, minus any paperwork inside to indicate who had purchased it or sent it. Inside was one of those hamburger-shaped personal assistant devices that you speak into and it answers your questions. There was no occasion, no birthday to warrant a gift.
“Did you order this?” “Nope.”
“Could someone in the family have sent it as a gift?” Inquiries were made and nobody took credit for it.
“Could it have been a surprise from a customer?” “Doubt it”.
“A promotion for something?” “Not that I am aware of”.
So now we have this small, flying-saucer looking disc plugged into the wall in the kitchen. When you say “Hey..” it wakes up and four little lights come on to indicate it is listening to you while it fields your question.
Aside from asking it what the weather is going to be like, I haven’t found too many uses for it yet. A couple of times it converted measurements for me while I was cooking. Another time I asked it what time a particular store opened. The S.O. has streamed the news through it to listen while preparing food. It has been good for asking who was in that movie when you can’t remember the actor’s name. Or what was the name of that movie that so-and-so was in. That’s been about all I’ve used it for. Of course, you can do all of that with your smart phone already. And sometimes it is not able to answer a question.
I suppose if one had mobility or motor skill issues that it might be helpful in dialing a number or contacting emergency personnel, or looking something up. We have friends and relatives who have either the Apple Alexa or the Google Assistant and enjoy using it for all sorts of things. Shopping lists. Music. Answering trivia. Making a call.
To be honest, it kind of creeps me out and I find myself unplugging it. Not to get into any real paranoia, but there is something a little Big Brother surrounding the premise of these things, yet one more item to add to the already standing issues of smart phone and internet privacy invasion. I can’t help but wonder just a little bit if it is listening in to household conversations when it is not being activated; a “who” behind that innocuous little hockey-puck-shaped disc doubling as a spy. Not that we have anything all that interesting to say. But it arrived in the mail without explanation.
I laugh (but not so much) when imagining it going rogue and taking over the systems in the house somehow……which of course is not possible……. Still, there is something very HAL 9000 about it – “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” as it locks the pod bay doors.
Actually, you have reason to be concerned. Any wireless device in your home, including Alexa, is hackable, meaning they can record and store everything said in The Cloud.
which is why I unplug it
This story locked up my iPad. Go figure that one!
(cue up eerie music here….)