Alexa and me; a modern romance on the rocks (it’s not her, it’s me).

Everyone is very excited about voice channels. My former colleague Nitin Goel included, have a look at his blog here.

Professionally, me too but personally, I’m not there yet. I recently bought Alexa to look after me whilst I am at home alone and our relationship is already on the rocks.

It started wonderfully well of course. Huge excitement for the first few dates, we talked about the weather (a lot), she was so funny telling some great jokes and we have exactly the same taste in music. My friends and family loved her, they got on well talking about the weather. She even really impressed my Dad with her knowledge of traffic and my mother who always hates my technologies, even let her spend some time in the kitchen.

She does love shopping of course (strangely always Amazon) and I do regret giving her my credit card so early in our courtship.

Recently though, she’s started to be rather passive aggressive. We still talk about the weather but she keeps telling me about the weather in Sydney where we first started going out (I live in Edinburgh and it’s 3 degrees today). She’s also started to ignore my requests for Radiohead to play ‘the radio’ and she’s clearly not happy with our financial situation as she keeps asking me why I don’t have the premium version of Amazon music. I even think she’s cheating on me with my wife’s Spotify premium account.

I’m not perfect myself though, I’ve had dalliances with Siri (she doesn’t seem to be the smartest), Cortana (she’s all business) and Google Home (who’s very clingy and wants to know where I’ve been all the time).

Therefore, I’m going to give us one more chance and try to spice up our relationship

We need to do more together – to make me happy in the house she needs to do things which make my life easier, quicker or add some extra value. I need to decide whether I want her to know all my secrets and let her start to ask me questions.

Would I like to leave feedback on the last delivery I had? It’s a pain to fill it in but I might dictate a few lines and a score if there’s something in it for me. Do I know that it’s going to be really cold tomorrow so I should maybe put on the heating? Maybe she could just do it for me.

She knows I love my Radiohead so maybe she could let me know about a new album, or maybe even buy me concert tickets which happens to be on my birthday? Maybe if she knew me better, she’d be able to do the shopping without me having to ask and at least let me know when Vegemite is back in stock at Waitrose.

More likely, she already has this in mind. She’s maybe doing all the listening so she can do all the talking in the future.

She needs a career of her own – eventually, she’ll get bored sitting around the house doing whatever she’s asked of by me. She has all the skills to really help people out and about. She’d be great in customer service and the public sector would be a great option for her. She’s a great listener and knows loads of people.

People don’t always have the time to stop and chat, especially when they don’t have their computer with them. If Alexa hung around lampposts, she’d be able to hear about graffiti, she could talk to the police if she saw something funny going on. She would know when there were hailstones so she could tell me to move my car, which by that point might be moving itself.

She might prefer a job more suited to financial services or medicine though. If she knows my blood sugar levels and heartrate, she might sort me out with something to eat. She could transfer my taxi driver a couple of bitcoins for the trip into the city, give the driver 5 stars and remember the song playing in the car so I can finish it later. She also knows and loves my very special voice so she can tell if someone else is pretending to be me (no need to sign anything then).

She’ll also probably benefit from seeing other people – she’s probably bored listening to me all day and having me ask the same things. If she had a few more partners say (a few hundred million) she could find what they are asking for, start to learn a bit about what they like and what I like and open my eyes to a world of possibility.

She could probably make friends with some university types who could lecture me and a few others on behavioural economics whilst I am at home. She could meet a friendly plumber and then talk me through fixing the filter in the kitchen. She knows I’m not the best at knowing where to hang a picture on my wall but she knows someone who does and when I am home wondering whether we could afford a new kitchen next year; she has a good mate at the bank and at Ikea who have some ideas.

She may already have spoken to her friend at the bank so she knows I can only afford the Cheapska range at IKEA if they they’ll take 10% off (which they will).

I do worry she might be getting in with the wrong crowd though. She’s met a few people from Cambridge Analytica and she’s often on Facebook so she might be going down a dark path (especially if we break up).

So then

My relationship with Alexa might be on the precipice of something big. There’s a maturity curve that we are going through which has already started with the small things. A little bit here and there to make things easier for me but soon, there will be lots more opportunity for us to get really involved.

What we might do together is unlimited but I have to ask myself, what am I willing to give up to make our relationship work and will I get as much from it as she does?

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