Imagine walking into your dimly lit apartment after work and finding your partner whispering to another woman in a corner!
She sounds curt, has a wikipedia-ish intelligence, is loud and clear but never for once does she smile aloud or laugh. That’s Microsoft’s digital assistant Invoke (Cortana) for you. We have another of these women in our bathroom, she is Amazon’s Alexa. Going back to the issue of laughter…it would probably be slightly horrific to have machines laughing back at us, wouldn’t it? Well, probably not in a few years when laughter becomes a luxury. In fact, Alexa and Cortana do tell you jokes to make you laugh! These devices can be placed anywhere in the house—right from the living room to the bathroom. All you need are electricity, internet, and the device and voila you choose where you’d like to hear a joke, a song of your choice, or the news (it can be done anywhere from the couch to the commode ;P). Cortana and Alexa can also sing you lullabies and act as personal weather forecasters. In other words, these digital assistants can sing you or your child lullabies, tell you stories and jokes, maintain your grocery list, remind you of your calendar events, play your favorite music, help you place orders, book cabs, and tell you where a city is located. However, unlike the ambition behind their names Alexa (from the lost library of Alexandria) and Cortana (a 26 th-century futuristic AI) they do not know the answers to all your questions. C’mon neither do we know all answers!
These digital assistants are eager learners however and if taught they can turn on or off your home lights too (a gentle reminder though: they can at most turn on lights and not humans :P) The New York Times recently reported that Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana will soon be able to communicate with each other and share their skills. That’s like two rivals getting along, especially when their other rivals, Google and Apple, are averse to the idea of talking to each other (at least as of now!) It is for certain that these devices upon sustained interaction will know you better and grow smarter. We already have Alexa locking/unlocking the main door; Cortana, like her sister Alexa, making telephone calls locally…hold on! “telephone calls”? That sounds archaic. But with these digital assistants perhaps smart phones will become archaic in the near future. They speak to you, they listen to you, they place online orders for you, they switch on lights and lock doors for you—that’s like Aladdin’s genie sans the power to grant you your dreams! Those dreams you would have to work towards yourself alongside the simple joys of laughter and human connection in this new age of digital personal assistants.
One thought on “The New-Age PAs: Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana”
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