I have become the owner of Amazon’s virtual assistant, the Amazon Echo for a couple days now. I can say overall that the experience is a good one, and one I would recommend to others, if they have even the slightest interest in allowing Alexa into their home. While all is well with our newest member of the family, I can’t help but ponder the idea of having a virtual assistant/AI in my home, always listening and always waiting to satisfy my families most trivial of inquiries.

Conspiracy theories aside, I would be lying if I said there wasn’t something faintly off-putting, yet exciting, about the idea of an “intelligent” technology assisting me in my home. While I enjoy having Alexa at my neck and call, fulfilling the most mundane of tasks, I can’t help but wonder what it means for the human operator.

So let me backtrack for a second.  I used my Spotify account for Alexa. All was well until I came into work and tried to play music. As Alexa plays music, the things I play at work through Spotify get paused. This is no rare phenomenon but something that happens when you use the same account in two different places. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to resolve this. After some time, however, I figured out an odd solution.

Create a Gmail account for Alexa, followed by a Spotify account. 

   As I went through the necessary steps of creating a Gmail account, I stopped for a second and realized how odd the situation was. I was essentially creating a fake email address for an artificial intelligence that resided in my home, and was now a member of my Spotify family plan. I found, and still find, something peculiar about the whole thing.

A device that can satiate even our most whimsical curiosities in a matter of seconds, could have profound effects on the evolution of our species, and how we develop technology of the future. I believe as we continue to advance technology in this “information” age, an expectancy of instant gratification and insatiable craving for knowledge will become a part of the human condition. Things like waiting on load times, or research in it’s traditional form, are becoming archaic inconveniences of yesteryear.

Our homes will become more connected to the internet than ever before in the years to come. Connecting our homes and appliances to the worldwide web will in turn bring them closer to us. We will use our house of the future as a tool, as opposed to simply being a roof over our heads. This tool will be used to service us however we see fit, and while the prospect excites me, I can’t help wonder what the this means for the future of the human. So I ask this:

Will these “super-homes” of the future foster a laziness for future generations?

Is our willingness to seek out knowledge stifled by the abundance of information that is all around us, and so readily available? I know these questions will go unanswered for some time, as only time will tell what becomes of humans and their “smart devices”.

Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe it’s something I’ll have to get used to. Whatever the case, I’m enjoying my new digital assistant and I know the family is too.

Stay tuned for a little fiction from yours truly sometime this weekend.

Stay the course…

-Gunnar

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