Amazon’s Alexa – A 21st Century Game of Telephone

I am a lucky blogger. As an attendee of the Dad 2.0 blogging conference this past year, I was eligible to participate in a contest, in which I did not win the grand prize. But I did win the next prize! Yes, I came home with an Amazon Echo, complete with new virtual friend Alexa. Well, actually, they mailed it to me. Which was even luckier, as I did not have room in my suitcase for Alexa.

Alexa is the perfect device management software for an opera singer like myself, because I have had years and years of diction training. I put this training to good use when asking Alexa to play a song for me, or to tell me the weather, or to put an item on my grocery list. The requested item goes onto my list, which I access at the store on my phone via the Alexa app, and all is well. Except that my children have not had years of diction training. And they love Alexa.

So today I was at the store, with the exciting task of trying to figure out what my children had attempted to add to the grocery list. I was like the last guy in the circle of a game of “telephone,” trying to decipher just what it was that the person sitting next to me had originally whispered. Because I looked down at my list and I saw this:

Alexa list 1

Now, I am fairly certain that puppies and teddy bears were exactly what my children had asked Alexa to put onto the shopping list, but what the heck had they meant by “Marble’s birthday?” What was “On march?” I had no idea. And scrolling up to the top of the list only made things worse.

Alexa list 2

I wish I were making this up. But no, when I got to the store I found “Plumping a corn hole friends” on my shopping list, along with “pig” and “pocket” and “paws.” Now, I had a theory for paws. Perhaps Alexa was playing music and someone asked her to “pause,” but she had added “paws” to the grocery list instead. And pigs, well, you can sort of buy those in some form at the grocery store, right? But hanged if I knew what “Plumping a corn hole friends” was supposed to be! All I knew was, it sounded kind of dirty and maybe I didn’t really want to know after all.

I guess I am bad at “telephone,” or maybe the game was rigged from the start, but I did get Ruby to reveal to me that what she had told Alexa was to add a “Platy-pigga-corn-hog friend,” because her stuffed platy-pigga-corn-hog was lonely, even though it had a pocket to put things in. She also mentioned she had added another pocket to the list, for the 2nd platy-pigga-corn-hog (which as you all know is a cross between a platypus, a pig, a unicorn, and a hedgehog) so it would’t feel left out in the pocket department.

So the mystery is solved, and it turns out that Alexa is the one who is bad at “telephone,” not me. Now the only remaining thing to figure out is, how can I get Alexa to stop listening to my children? Their diction is improving every day, and it’s making me nervous…

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Posted in Amazon, Parenting, Ruby, Shopping.

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  1. Pingback: The Things We Pack, and the Things We Don't - Tenor Dad

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