“Alexa… please stop allowing bad role modeling and stereotyping women!”

Dear Amazon,

I absolutely LOVE the Amazon Echo !  I use it my classroom.  I have the echo dots for my kid’s rooms.  I use it for music, podcasts, weather, games and on and on and on.  I can’t say enough good things about how it has made our life easier, more educational and a whole lot fun!

However, I have two major improvements and modes that you need to create and create them fast, please.  First, can you get all of your techies together and create a “Politeness” mode for the Echo?  I mean it, a politeness mode.  Where the echo does not respond to a human unless you say please, thank you or some other kind way to speak to it?  By not having this mode, my children, students and hell, even me, are speaking to the echo, at times, in a not so pleasant way.  I mean, if someone spoke to me the way both myself and others speak to the echo, I would say something like “Excuse me?” or “Let’s try that again.”

Think about it… “Alexa, tell me the weather.”  “Alexa, what is the traffic”  “Alexa, tell what time the Patriots play today.”  Then, if she doesn’t respond immediately or responds slowly, tone and volume starts to change quickly and it becomes “ALEXA!  WHAT IS THE WEATHER!” “ALEXA!  PLAY THE PODCAST… NO, NO… I DON’T WANT THE FORECAST, I WANT THE PODCAST!”

So, “Politeness mode” would mean this… “Alexa, please tell what time it is.  Thank you.”  “Alexa, what does today’s weather look like?  Thank you!”  “Alexa, please play  I heart radio.  Thanks!”  It will role model some manners that lots of our kids (and adults) are in need to using.

The second one is little bit more concerning.  Where is the male voice?  So, now are we not only speaking poorly at the Alexa, we have a female only voice that is responding to our every order regardless of how we are speaking to it?  I’m sorry, is this 1950’s technology?  We are now role modeling for young men (and old) that you can speak at a female voice in any manner whatsoever and she will immediately respond to your request regardless of how speak to her!  NOT OK… We have plenty of young men who already have enough poor role modeling of how to treat women in their lives, we don’t need an AI to help with that cause.  I have 2 daughters, if anyone spoke to my daughters the way I hear people talk to the Echo, I’d be quiet angry, to say the least.

So, with great power comes great responsibility Amazon!  Polite mode and a male voice.  You have the technology, let’s make it happen!

All the best,

Steve

 

 

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