Thursday 27 July 2017

No hope when even 'Alexa' gets confused in cyberspace

Amazon's latest gadget shows technology has trapped adults in a world that only children know

'The internet remains essentially a mystery to me. It occupies the same awkward psychological niche as the video recorder did for my parents' generation: an infernally complicated contraption that one wishes wasn't quite so useful' Photo: Depositphotos
'The internet remains essentially a mystery to me. It occupies the same awkward psychological niche as the video recorder did for my parents' generation: an infernally complicated contraption that one wishes wasn't quite so useful' Photo: Depositphotos

Jemima Lewis

'We've arranged a civilisation in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster."

So said American astrophysicist Carl Sagan - and he died two decades before Alexa began her march on the modern home.

Alexa is the name used to address Amazon Echo, a small two-way speaker containing a computerised personal assistant. It can be linked to any newfangled 'smart' device, from kettles to thermostats, and can access any information on the internet. All that's required of the human householder is to bark out instructions with sufficient imperiousness. (Like a downtrodden parlourmaid, Alexa gets confused by "please" and "thank you".)

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