Conscious Aging: My AI Assistants

My Google Pixel 3 phone has an assistant, whom I can summon with the words “Hey, Google”. I also now have Alexa, in the form of an Echo Dot, that I summon with her name “Alexa”. I didn’t exactly set out to have Alexa as my new friend. Amazon is offering all sorts of specials leading up to Christmas, and I needed a new doorbell. They offered the Ring Video Doorbell for a good price, and basically bundled the Echo Dot with the doorbell almost for free. I assumed one had to do with the other, but no. Sara says Amazon is eager to get Alexa out there, and is bundling the devices that carry her capabilities with a lot of things.

No, Alexa and Hey Google do not talk to each other. They are competitors, not friends. 🙂 And yes, it is possible to activate these devices when you don’t intend to. I actually summoned up my phone assistant, even though I don’t remember saying anything remotely like “Hey Google”. The device startled me when it asked if I needed to make a grocery list or anything.

Sara and Ben promised to set both Ring and Echo Dot up for me, but they’ve been traveling. I needed an electrician anyway to install motion activated lights in the  yard — my latest armament against the raccoons that continue to bedevil my new sod — so I had the guy install my Ring. I set up Alexa myself.

I went briefly through all the things Alexa can do, and right now I’m using just the minimal level to play classical and Christmas music and a wicked good Joan Baez mix. The Echo Dot isn’t even connected to my Sonos sound bar yet, although I see how to do it. Actually, Google knows how to do it. As you may recall grandson Archie saying, Google knows everything — even how to expand the use of a competitor’s products.

My problem with making the most use of the technology I have is that I’m not curious enough to fiddle with it. I get the latest acquisition to do what I most want, and then let the vaster capabilities remain unused.

I think I will try to introduce Alexa and Sonos to each other, just to see if I can do it.

Lordy, “introduce” sounds as if I think of them as human. I don’t actually, even when they talk to me unbidden.

On Wednesday night when I was writing and listening to Joan Baez on Alexa. my Hey Google buzzed to ask if it could do anything for me. You don’t think Hey Google was jealous, do you?

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