For those of you who like to be connected at all times, Intelligent Personal Assistants seem to be all the rage. I’m talking things like Google Home, Amazon’s Echo or Microsoft’s Cortana. They seem like they can be pretty helpful, allowing you to get information by just using your voice, or allowing you to effortlessly order goods online, among other things. Good ideas for people who are constantly on the go and don’t have a couple minutes to sit down and do a little research or online shopping on a computer or mobile device.
They seem to be pretty user-friendly, too. I mean, kids have no problem using them to order all kinds of things their parents would rather they didn’t, for example. However, it seems that members of older generations, who didn’t grow up with computers, might struggle a bit to understand how they work or how to use them. I came across this heartwarming video of a grandmother trying to figure out how to use Google Home – To be honest, I’m amazed it can even understand her with that thick accent.
“Eh, googoo… Have some canneloni!”
She seems simultaneously amazed and slightly terrified at this new thing in her home. To be honest, I don’t blame her. Personally, I have no interest in having one of these things in my home. Why? Because it’s always listening. It has to, in order for it to work. Otherwise, there would be no response when you say “Okay Google” or “Alexa.” A couple years back when Samsung warned people not to discuss personal or sensitive information near its smart TV’s, that was enough to convince me that I don’t really have any desire to have a smart TV.
Don’t get me wrong – I know I already have a couple of devices that could be spying on me at literally any time. I try not to be too paranoid about it, but I’ve definitely accepted that my iPhone or iPad could be listening to or recording me, and there’s not much I can do about it unless I get rid of them. There’s that conspiracy theory that Facebook listens to your conversations to target ads specifically for you – something that Facebook denies. Whatever the case may be, I don’t feel the need to bring something that’s always going to be listening to me into my home.
Maybe my paranoia has been fed by videos have been posted online. Here’s one that was one of the first to make me look critically at these devices:
That set off a rash of people asking their Alexas the same question, and eventually Amazon changed how its personal assistant responds when prodded for that information:
BRB… getting my tinfoil hat ready…
Here’s how Google Home handles the same line of questioning:
Not really any better there… But at least it leaves it open to the possibility.
You CAN have fun with Alexa though. Try setting up two Echoes side-by-side and watch them talk to each other:
And here’s another way to have some fun with Alexa that made me laugh pretty hard:
Still not enough to make me want to get one of these in my home. The future is happening, and I don’t care if I get left behind. At least it’ll only be Apple and Facebook who are spying on me…
At any rate, if you DID get a new Amazon Echo for Christmas, don’t forget that you can now ask Alexa to play 100.5 Fresh Radio anytime! That should make it a little easier to deal with!