By Farhad Manjoo,
My wife and I were just settling into bed one night when Alexa, the other woman in my life, decided to make herself heard.
Without being summoned, the Amazon Echo Dot at my bedside — one of the half-dozen devices that Alexa inhabits in our house — lit up its spectral blue ring, as if it had heard its triggering wake word, “Alexa.” But instead of offering help with some household chore, the voice assistant began to wail, like a child screaming in a horror-movie dream.
“Huh,” I said to my wife when it was over. She said something less kind.
But here’s what’s really strange: By the next morning, we had forgotten all about it.
It is a measure of how thoroughly Amazon’s voice assistant has wormed herself into our lives, and into much of the culture beyond, that I never considered unplugging her after the scream. Instead, I chalked the incident up to a harmless bug — one of the many mysteries of living with an artificial intelligence life form that can be summoned at a breath. (An Amazon representative offered to ...