Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Alexa..Alexa...Alexa...can you hear me...hear me...hear me?
I started talking to Alexa, Amazon's AI assistant, when I purchased a new Fire TV box that was bundled with Echo Dot. I didn't really know what an Echo Dot was until it arrived and I set it up next to my easy chair where I watch television. My first question for Alexa (at the urging of Amazon Customer Support that I'd called to help me set up my Echo Dot) was, "Alexa, where is Chuck Norris?"
In reality, I don't really care about Chuck Norris, but she answered, "If Chuck Norris wants you to know where he is, he'll tell you. But when he does, it will be too late."
Okay, an AI with a sense of humor. But what else can she/it do? I asked her to play independent rock music and she sampled some songs from Amazon Prime Music. I asked her to turn on Netflix on my Fire TV and she complied. That saved me about three clicks on the remote. I then ask her to pause and eventually play whatever I am streaming on my Fire TV. Again, this saved me from reaching over an pressing a button on my remote.
I have a tendency to fall asleep in front of the television. So I found that I can ask Alexa to wake me up at a specified time. That's nice.
For Christmas, I decided to share Alexa with my family. I bought my wife an Echo Show that comes with a small monitor and can do everything an Echo can do and play Amazon Prime videos. I bought my daughter an Amazon Echo. It includes incredible speakers so she can play the Hamilton soundtrack over and over again in her room. I bought my son an Echo Dot just so he would quit asking my Echo Dot questions.
One of my Echo gifts came bundled with Alexa compatible plug ins. So now my Echo Dot can control one power outlet in my TV room. I named the plug Elvis. Right now my Elvis Tree lights are plugged into it. All I have to say is, "Alexa, turn on Elvis" and she turns on the Christmas Tree lights! That saves me at least five steps across the room. She also turns Elvis off on command.
I find myself talking to Alexa much more than I talk to Siri on my iPhone. Siri just doesn't seem to have the same sense of humor as Alexa. Though I do have Siri talk to me with an Australian accent. I just learned how to have Alexa use a British accent. I will see if I like it when I get home.
I realize we could get along fine without Alexa or our Echoes, but they make things interesting and they are great reminders that we live in an age with technology that used to be just the stuff of science fiction. Because who would we have turned in the when we wanted to know what does the fox say (which is a question my daughter has been asking Alexa every night)?
The answer is, of course, "Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!"