Alexa will put up with just about anything. She has a remarkable tolerance for annoying behavior, and she certainly doesn’t care if you forget your please and thank yous.
But while artificial intelligence technology can blow past such indignities, parents are still irked by their kids’ poor manners when interacting with Alexa, the assistant that lives inside the Amazon Echo.
“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 syntax is generally simple and straightforward, but it doesn’t exactly reward niceties like “please.” Adding to this, extraneous words can often trip up the speaker’s artificial intelligence. When it comes to chatting with Alexa, it pays to be direct—curt even. “If it’s not natural language, one of the first things you cut away is the little courtesies,” says Dennis Mortensen, who founded a calendar-scheduling startup called x.ai.
this is a box you speak to as if it were a person who does not require social graces.”
It’s this combination that worries Hunter Walk, a tech investor in San Francisco. In a blog post, he described the Amazon Echo as “magical” while expressing fears it’s “turning our daughter into a raging asshole.”
Unintended consequences of AI!