clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Flipped

Is the Amazon Echo turning your kid into a jerk?

Or is your kid simply able to distinguish between robots and people?

The Amazon Echo, despite having customarily been given a female name (Alexa), is not a human person. Despite this fact, it is apparently worrisome to some parents that their children are treating the device like a device created to do stuff for them rather than as a fellow being worthy of their respect. Via Quartz:

"I’ve found my kids pushing the virtual assistant further than they would push a human," says Avi Greengart, a tech analyst and father of five who lives in Teaneck, New Jersey. "[Alexa] never says ‘That was rude’ or ‘I’m tired of you asking me the same question over and over again.'"

The reason that Alexa never says "I'm tired of you asking me the same question over and over again" is because it is not tired of being asked the same question over and over again. It is a robot and being asked questions is its sole reason for existing. However, according to Greengart and at least three other people, this is worrisome. Because apparently people treat inanimate metal cans with artificial intelligence the same way they treat their peers? Here's another guy:

A Dane living in New York City, Mortensen extends the same courtesies he would to a human when asking a bot to carry out a task, but he says that isn’t the case when his teenage daughters talk to Alexa at home. "It’s very direct," he says. "There’s no ‘Would you be so kind?’ There’s no ‘please.’ There’s not a single ‘thank you.’ It just is."

Wait, this guy says "Would you be so kind?" when he is asking his Amazon Echo to do something? That is weird. He should stop doing that. The Amazon Echo doesn't care if you are nice to it, and, in fact, is incapable of kindness. Imagine what a confusing world this would be if you were raised to pretend that household appliances were people.

Parents are worried the Amazon Echo is conditioning their kids to be rude [Quartz]