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“Alexa, play some Miles Davis”

Over the weekend I received an Amazon Echo as a gift. I set it up in my kitchen on Sunday morning and had it playing music and telling me the weather in no time. I also setup a couple of “routines” so that when I say things, such as “good morning”, it cycles through the weather, the news, and some other things that I might find valuable at the start of my day. It is pretty neat.

The truth is that I have actually been avoiding voice assistants since they were first launched. As much as I consider myself an early adopter, I have been generally uncomfortable with the idea that my voice commands, and perhaps other things, are being stored by Amazon. There are ways to delete that history, but I am not yet sure if that’s enough for me. Am I going to be served an ad because of something I mention in my own home?

Now that I’ve been trying it out for a few days, I will say that it is incredibly useful. I immediately see the value. I use it to control some of my lights. I ask it things when I’m cooking and my hands are dirty: “Alexa, how badly are the Raptors going to beat the Bucks this Thursday?” And I use it to play music. But is all of this a fair exchange for the creepy feeling that they create?

I’m not sure. But it certainly feels like the future.

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