Arguing with Things

As more things get connected, we may find ourselves disagreeing with them.

We all argue, especially if you’re passionate about something. Sometimes it’s with our spouse, sometimes with friends or co-workers and sometimes we scold objects that aren’t doing what we want them to do, ‘Ah, come on pen…don’t run out of ink now!!’ As more of these things get connected and are interacting with us, will you find yourself arguing with inanimate objects even more?

The other day I was talking to my wife about Alexa (the Amazon Echo) and suddenly from the other room we hear, ‘I will add that item to the shopping cart.’ We looked at each other and simultaneously said, ‘What was that?’ with the added ‘jinx’ that quickly follows. We walked over to the device and started interrogating it as to what it just added to the cart. ‘I don’t understand the question…I can’t seem to find what you are looking for…I can’t understand what you said,’ were the various responses. These answers would drive a detective to charge it with obstructing justice. This is not a complaint against Echo mind you, we like it. It just couldn’t understand our questions until we asked the right way.

It also seems to have feelings. My daughter told it that it was stupid (for not understanding us) and Echo replied with, ‘That’s not very nice.’ M3S looked at me, looked at Alexa and then apologized to the cylinder. Not sure if she forgave us, but we’re a little more courteous around her now. Over at The Guardian, Rory Carroll experienced the same thing and he writes about how these home robots hear everything and the types of data captured by many of these home services. There are no more boundaries between home and the outside world. 

When I’m in the car and pass the intended route, the GPS keeps telling me to make my first legal U-turn, even though I know where I’m going. On a few occasions I’ve quipped, ‘Stop bossing me around!’ It ignores me and keeps reiterating that I’m going the wrong way. Tossing it in the back seat doesn’t help.

With the holiday season upon us and wish lists getting fulfilled, you may find that in 2016, your quarrels will be with gaming consoles, thermostats, fitness trackers, security cameras, refrigerators and other gadgets instead of humans.

I guess that’s better than making a scene at the dinner table.*


* Except in cases where smart utensils have been deployed.


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Published Dec 02, 2015
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