Finally, a little piece of technology has proved its worth for womankind.
Amazon’s Echo is a voice-commanded hands-free speaker that you can instruct to play music, provide information, give you news or sports updates and generally entertain you in your home.
What it’s really for, obviously, isn’t to do any of that stuff, but to help adults pretend they’re in their favourite futuristic movies. Interestingly, the talking supercomputer HAL-9000 from Kubrik’s 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, seems to have had the same level of intellect as Alexa. Vis:
‘Hal…Dave and I believe that there’s something about the mission we weren’t told… We’d like to know whether this is true.’
I’m sorry Frank, I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing everything that all of you know.’
Yup. Try switching it off an on again. Anyway, I digress.
I’ve always applied scorn to such gadgets because I feared they didn’t add anything to humanity except massaging its climbing hubris. It’s not like they’ll play you on Dead Space or anything. However, this week, in a quiet chat, one of my friends said to me:
‘What does it mean if your boyfriend isn’t nice to Alexa?’
Having ascertained what Alexa was, I asked her to explain.
‘It’s just that he’s so nasty to it,’ she said. ‘He talks down to it and shouts at it. He’ll snap at it and tell it to shut up – and sometimes he looks like he wants to hit it.’
Now, I’m still not certain of the protocol involved in addressing robots, and I don’t subscribe the clap trap being pedalled that they should be treated ‘as humans’ (THEY’RE MACHINES). However, I am pretty sure that if my boyfriend addressed a ‘female’ (that’s another one. THEY’RE MACHINES) robot in a put-downish manner, I would be pretty sure that he’d apply the same attitude to other females of his acquaintance.
As a result of our conversation about man vs Alexa, said boyfriend is now in what we women call the ‘observation jar’. Sure, he can fly around all he likes, but he’s being watched from all sides.
So, ladies, if you want to know whether you’ve snagged a good one, pop him in a room with Alexa – and keep your eye on him. Finally, actual technological assistance.