Clay Johnson on the robot raising his child
The Amazon Echo is summoned by the word "Alexa" -- you say that word, and then ask it questions or tell it to do something (play some music, set a timer, check the weather, etc) and it just does it. And it works great. Especially on 2.5 year olds. I've noticed recently that Felix has started interacting with Alexa. He can't quite say the word well enough to trigger a response (he's almost there) but he'll bark orders at her; more interestingly, he treats her as an authoritati...ve source. A few days ago, Felix told me that it wasn't time to go back home from the playground because Alexa said it wasn't time to go. Then, On Saturday, on the way to a birthday party, after I disobeyed the GPS's command to take a highway, Felix chimed in from the back seat: "Dad, *other* Alexa said you need to take the highway" Our minds were blown at this for a lot of reasons. And it's all fascinating, and I'm sure somebody will write books about the kids who grew up with computers they could talk to just like they wrote books about my generation interacting with televisions and the Internet. But that's *not* the point of this little Facebook post. No, the point is, Amazon shipped functionality that allows you to make the Echo say things via a handy remote control. So realizing that Felix viewed his invisible friend "Alexa" as an authority, and realizing that I could make Alexa say things, we seized the moment tonight. C: Felix, it's time for bed. F: NEVER. THERE WILL BE NO BED. NOT NOW NOT EVER. NO NOTHING. NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. (exact words.) C: Okay. Well, I'm going to go get a bath ready. Alexa: Felix, it's time to go take a bath. F: Really Alexa? Alexa: Yes. Please join your father in the bathroom. Felix was in the bathroom immediately, and told me that it was time for his bath. After bath, he promptly told Alexa good night. She told him to have sweet dreams. Parents who are prime members, the Amazon Echo costs $99, and it is worth every penny. Tomorrow we'll try housework.