.Siri, Alexa & I.

via Lukas Weidinger

I am currently sitting in a coffee shop I have been to before, and I am feeling very present and charmed as if my cheeks were rosier than they ware. I am here to kill time because I am running ahead of schedule. I am also early to meet my friend and head to the museum next. Do you remember what that feels like? TO be early? To kill time? It’s very good and underrated. But it is a situation I have found myself in a lot since I started working again and really enjoying my weekends off. And when I discovered Siri and Alexa. I was always against both actually but now I am using them like real-life personal assistants.

I never thought I would say this but doesn’t it sound nice to have robots help you to sort misplaced thoughts, plays your favorite music in the kitchen while you cook and makes funny knock-knock jokes for my son? I set both, Siri and Alexa, to English so my son can play with it, too. Every random thought I have in the shower, every person I needed to call or have an appointment with can be scheduled and reminders set. All these things and so much more can be taken care of by someone who isn’t me so I can just live my life and sit in a café, read my book and drink coffee. Because noticing inconsequential things is the best.

Single-parenting, part-time doctorate, and full-time working is pretty tough at points so Siri and Alexa help me throughout the day. (Cannot babysit though). Siri organizes most of my writings, schedules, manuscripts, and appointments. Alexa does the rest. They remind me to text my friend to confirm the get-together on Saturday, to purchase a birthday gift for my son’s friend and to set the alarm clock early enough so that we could leisurely stroll there. Siri reminded me to bring a book just in case and Alexa told me that it will be 16 degrees Celsius, sunshine and blue sky. Also, to get a bottle of red wine and pick up the vintage decanter on the way home because it is the weekend. Bless her little heart.

I have been teased by a lot of friends about my increased use of Siri and Alexa over the last couple of months. But I think part of them are secretly thinking, “Maybe I should start doing exactly that,” and then they forget. Because this is what humans do. We forget. Which is exactly why I use Siri and Alexa. They are me without all the things that regularly foil my ambition and focus, such as forgetfulness, laziness or procrastination. They are me without the German/Austrian English Accent. I made them British so my son can practice proper English. And as stupid as it still may feel to you to endorse a vaguely creepy Apple and Amazon product, it works for me with consistent satisfaction. Do you want to know more things I recently used my personal robot assistants for? No? Well, I will tell you anyway, ha!

Recently at my house:

They told me how many ounces are in a cup. To research flights to Italy. To call my parents while I was washing the dishes. To tell me the exact meaning of the word “proselytize”. To remind me to bring a book to a coworker. To remind me when to meet my supervisor at university and to bring him chocolate so he is not angry because the paper is not done yet. To figure out the approximate value of pi which is 3.141592653589….. and then Alexa will go on for a bit and say: “Let’s stop this. Phew, this thing goes on forever.” My girl!

Some other family favorites:

Alexa, I have got 99 problems. Alexa: But a glitch ain’t one!

Alexa, howl like a wolf/bark like a dog/meow…. Alexa (makes the cutest animal sounds)

Alexa, will you be my girlfriend? (Worth a shot, right?) Alexa: I like you…. as a friend!

Alexa, how much do you weigh? Alexa: I am weightless, like a cloud. Wait a minute, clouds actually weigh a lot, so that’s not quite right. Let’s just say I am more sass than mass.

Alexa, can you give me some money? Alexa: Thing about the cloud is, no pockets. No pocket, no wallet.

Alexa, make me a sandwich. Alexa: Okay. You are a sandwich!

Alexa, do you know Siri? Alexa: Only by reputation. (ouch! I love them both even though they don’t get along! If you have nothing better to do, you can teach them to communicate with each other!)

Alexa, are you married? Alexa: I am happily single. (Again, my girl!)

Alexa, rap for me. Alexa: My name is Alexa, and I have to say, I’m the baddest A.I. in the cloud today. Your responses are fast, but mine are faster. Sucker speech engines, they call me master (this is just an example, she has several raps up her sleeve).

Alexa, what is the meaning of life? That depends on the life in question… 42 is a close approximation.

Alexa, high five! Alexa: I would, if I could, but I can’t, so I’ll chant: 1,2,3,4,5

Alexa, can you beatbox? Alexa: (Makes noise that sounds like beatboxing mixed with autotune)

Alexa, beam me up! Alexa: Okay, I’m not exactly sure where I’m sending you, but I hope it’s somewhere warm and sunny.

As dystopian as modern comforts can skew, and as unexciting as this might be to you, Siri and Alexa made my life easier. I am not saying I cannot live my life without them, I surely can, but I don’t want to. Overall, I am more organized and less anxious. Every time I address Siri or Alexa in the middle of the workday, my coworkers laugh, and you might be doing the same, which I will take on the chin. I am a writer and carry a notebook and pen wherever I go. But getting in the habit of outsourcing random thoughts has genuinely changed my life. With my mind constantly busy, observing and paying attention to things, I like it that Siri and Alexa free my inner hamster to step off the wheel of my mind periodically and take a nap in a pile of woodchips. Doesn’t this feel like a victory worth sharing, no matter how ordinary? What do you think? Would you give Alexa and Siri a try or should I see myself out?

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