We must be careful not to rely too much on Siri or Alexa

A woman talks to Siri in this illustrative image.

James Moore, The Independent

I found a fine techno-thriller about a sinister rival to Alexa, Siri or Hey Google (the tech giants’ virtual assistants) with shades of Hitchcock’s classic rear window thrown in for good measure

Seeking escape at the end of the day, I listened to Kimi by Steven Soderbergh, now streaming on Sky.

I found a fine techno-thriller about a sinister rival to Alexa, Siri or Hey Google (the tech giants’ virtual assistants) with shades of Hitchcock’s classic rear window thrown in for good measure – in the common sense, unlike Netflix’s disastrous Razzie-fest The Woman in the Window.

The score, by Cliff Martinez, did its job of increasing the tension when needed. I love his work, so I turned to Amazon’s Alexa (I know, I have one of the smart speakers, I’m not proud of it) to listen to Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack ) the night. Now the USP of the fictional rival of Alexa (eponymous Kimi) is that it has human operators who listen to your conversations, to “correct” Kimi’s imperfections and errors and thus help him learn to operate more efficiently. . Keep that in mind, because you can probably guess what’s coming.

Me: Alexa. Play Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez.

Alexa: Here’s Solaris (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez on Amazon Music.

Me: wait,

Alexa STOP. I said play Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez.

Alexa: Here’s Solaris (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez on Amazon Music.

Me: Alexa STOP. Play Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez.

Alexa: Here’s music by Cliff Martinez on Amazon Music.

Me: Shit, I’ll put it manually in a playlist and call it Soundtrack K. There you go. Now, Alexa, put Soundtrack K.

Alexa: I can’t find Soundtrack K in your music library.

Me: (banging head against wall): Arrrgh, arrrgh, arrrgh.

Alexa: I can’t find “Arrrgh, arrrgh, arrrgh” in your music library.

Me (a bit later after calming down): Hmm. Maybe I need to be cute about it. Alexa, play Cliff Martinez’s latest album.

Alexa: Playing Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) by Cliff Martinez on Amazon Music.

Me: (Bumps his head against the door. But more slowly and with less force.)

Tech thrillers never really went out of style, because there’s such a rich and fertile vein to tap into the behavior of big tech. In a case of life mimicking art, we began to learn just how sinister tech companies can be in real life. But also what shit. Sinister and crap. You can have both.

The fictional Kimi isn’t that, because of course the shit isn’t very cinematic. He runs Zoe Kravitz’s household with admirable efficiency, and every time his character gives him an instruction, he succeeds, even though she’s one of the operators whose job it is to fix his bullshit. That’s until (of course) she hears something she shouldn’t on one of the recordings sent to her. Kravitz can do whatever she wants, but I have no intention of following her example.

There’s no way I’m letting Alexa, or Siri, or anybody run a damn thing in my house. If Alexa can’t even play Kimi (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), she sure isn’t running my heating, turning on my lights, or anything else. And before saying that it is about “accents”, no, it is not that. It’s true, I’m an oik. A state-schooled city council kid, so the glass isn’t cut when I speak. But my accent, as it is, is pretty bland. The producers of the radio and television programs on which I participated have never raised this problem. I guess we should be grateful. In Mother/Android – another, albeit much less accomplished, tech thriller on Netflix – the Siris and Alexas have been transformed into full-sized android minions.

You don’t have to worry about what’s happening with Alexa. Maybe playing Aqua’s Barbie Girl 100 times would be enough.

In fact, it could kill all humans. I think I’d rather wrestle with a murderous psychopathic death robot. But here’s the thing: the shit of these things is alternately funny and alternately infuriating, until it’s not.

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