Alexa-When Will You Take Over The World?

My wife bought me one of those Echo Dot gadget thingies for my birthday. You know, one of those hands-free things you can instruct to perform various things for you, such as playing particular songs, tell you the time, etc. 

Yes-that’s as far as I’ve got at the moment. Technology is not my forte.


All of a sudden, there’s another presence in the house. When my daughter is telling me how to address it, she turns her back on it, whispering, as though it is listening in to her. Does it watch us as we pass?

My son, James,  bellows at it like a sergeant major: “ALEXA, WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE IN MANCHESTER?” 

Of course, we live in Manchester. But perhaps Alexa knows better.

I feel all self-conscious when I hold a conversation with it, my manners kicking in. When it does what I’ve asked it to I can’t help but say thank you.

If you was to look on my daughter’s phone you’d see a video that she made, giggling and whispering upstairs on the landing. “I’m about to annoy my Dad.” She then shouts down the stairs: “Alexa, sing a song,” and you’d hear me shouting ” Piss off Millie!” in exasperation as Alexa starts singing a nursery rhyme during a crucial moment in the tv programme I’m watching.

This morning, while it was just the two of us, I thought I should try and make an acquaintance of him. Or her. It. Perhaps Alexa is gender fluid. 

Even though we’d already had a formal introduction, we needed to familiarise ourselves with each other. My attempts fell on deaf ears. Or speakers.

Several times I was pointedly ignored, greeted by silence every time I requested The Beatles’ White Album.

Then James emerged, clutching his schoolbag, to witness my one-way conversation. “Dad-it’s not called Siri, it’s called Alexa.”

Siri is the name of another hands-free gadget thingie my friend has in his car. I’d been calling mine by the wrong name. It looked like it was quietly fuming. Siri; Alexa. Maybe they were cousins.

“Alexa,” the disc lit up in response, “do you know Siri?”

“Only by reputation.”

The reply was instant. I was sure I could detect a certain tone, a nuanced knowing.

 “Only by reputation.”  I think if Alexa came with eyebrows one of them would have been raised.

I’ve read enough sci-fi to know that we are on that road now. This is just the start. Next there will be Replicants. And Cyborgs. And toasters that know better than you just how you like your toast. Burning it black every time you get its name wrong. A very jealous mistress. 

Advertisements

In Greece; Forever England

Since City Jackdaw has been flying, I think I’ve probably made a Remebrance Sunday post every year. Except yesterday.

As usual we spent the day, which coincided with the Armistice Centennial, by visiting the memorial on which the names of past family members are listed. It’s this personal connection that gives context to the wider impact of that war.

As I didn’t post yesterday, I will share this photograph today: it’s from when I visited the grave of my Gt Grandfather, Timothy O’Sullivan, in 2007, ninety years to the day since he died. He is buried in Thessaloniki. A plot that is forever England.

R.I.P

Where In The Tree Is Vivien?

My favourite actress would have been 105 years old today.

City Jackdaw

I recently finished reading a biography about possibly my country’s greatest actress: Vivien Leigh. Triumphant and tragic, always lovely, ever fragile, her most difficult part was that of her own life.

image

My post on an old movies site on Facebook provoked a conversation about her being England’s greatest actress. I was asked what it was about her that made me of this opinion, and how she faired in comparison to the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren. (The question was asked in all innocence, purely out of curiosity, as it was posed by a fan of Vivien’s who was curious as to why I hold her in such similar esteem.)

I replied that both Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are fine actresses, (Elizabeth Taylor too), but to me there seems a certain gravitas in both Leigh’s performances and in her attitude towards her craft. Most of her…

View original post 238 more words