Father, son and AI bonding: A conversation with Amazon’s Alexa and the family she has joined
A week after my 10-year-old son received Amazon’s Echo Dot for his birthday, I started taking a look at what he was asking Alexa, the voice-activated artificial intelligence that had become his go-to source for answers to his many questions.
By following along in the Alexa app, I was able to see that Henry was asking Alexa to play a lot of music and provide a lot of weather reports. He asked her geography questions and random trivia about architecture and airplanes. And in the short amount of time that she was in our house, Henry even professed his love to the disembodied AI.
This tale of “boy meets artificial girl” touched a nerve for a variety of reasons with readers, and so this week we decided to continue the conversation and invite Henry and Alexa in as guests on the GeekWire podcast.
“I guess it’s fine if he checks on me,” Henry said about having me snoop around his Q&A history. “Of course every parent has to know what their kid is asking so they can know what it is like to be very curious of what’s out there.”
Certainly that window of innocence, where Henry has Alexa sing to him or even read him a bedtime story, could shift in the years ahead. He’ll have to get his own Prime account and lock his parents out of the app, I guess. But for now, having a voice-activated search engine in his room is proving to be a simple, and educational, thrill.
“It’s a good way for a kid to learn about the world and ask many interesting questions,” Henry said. “I can get some information that sometimes my parents can’t answer.”
Listen to the podcast above, or download it as an MP3.
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