Two news items caught my eye the past two days. The first was Jony Evans list of 142 Useful Voice Commands For Siri. 142? How am I supposed to remember 142 commands? Here’s one: “Where’s the command cheat sheet, Siri?”
The second news item came earlier in the week when Amazon’s Alexa talking speaker began laughing at users. That’s right. Laughing. Out loud. For no reason. First, silence, then Alexa’s voice laughing, or perhaps cackling. Maybe Alexa can read your mind.
Thank You, Siri
Among the world’s most popular artificially intelligent talking speakers, Siri might be the dumbest, even if it gets used more frequently than Amazon’s Alexa. I’m guessing here, but Alexa mostly is homebound, and Siri is on over a billion iPhones, iPads, and Macs, but dumb is dumb. If I have to carry around a list of 142 things Siri can act upon, then something is wrong.
At least Siri is not a laughing clown. That crown belongs to Alexa. Heather Kelly:
It’s quiet in the house. Nobody else is home and the cat is fast asleep. Then you hear a disembodied woman’s voice let out a short, mocking cackle.
Honestly, Siri has never done that to me. She has piped up with a “Yes?” whenever I accidentally say, “Hey, seriously… did you know…” but no cackling in derision. In fact, I can’t make Siri laugh whenever I ask her to. I guess laughing is not on the list of 142 commands.
Nobody knows exactly how many Echos Amazon has sold in the past few years. Millions, perhaps. But this week Alexa went all public on itself.
Some Alexa users have reported hearing an unprompted laugh from their smart speaker devices in the last day. The laugh happens randomly, when nobody is using the device, or in response to request to turn on or off lights.
Me: “Turn off the lights, Siri.”
Creepy, right? Apparently Amazon’s Echo and Alexa are the only artificially intelligent talking speakers that have such an issue, but what happens if Alexa suddenly develops a sense of humor? Or, perhaps some insight into the future?
Alexa’s laugh isn’t the only thing that’s freaking out users. Others have claimed Alexa has stopped responding to requests. One Twitter user said their Amazon Echo suddenly began listing names of local funeral homes and cemeteries, also unprompted.
OK, Siri might be the dumbest of the lot, and we might have to carry around a card with 142 actionable commands to get any value out of her, but at least she’s not a morbid laughing clown, right?