Aaron Paul Calvin investigates the emotional connections people are making with Alexa:
In many ways, Alexa is the progeny of ELIZA. The way it interacts with people is much more sophisticated than the teleprinter-fed program that communicated through a disassembling and reassembling of its users’ words, but the overall intended effect is still the same. Both programs are meant to interact with users in a way that’s supposed to elicit feelings of comfort and intimacy within the user.
It strikes me that purposeful efforts to create a genuine emotional connection can backfire when they’re even a few degrees off. Here at home, our Echo has a 80–90% success rate understanding our daughter and me. But it never understands my wife Liza. An emotional connection has been made, for sure: Alexa annoys the hell out of Liza.
A voice UI that doesn’t understand your voice is frustrating. An affection UI that inspires anger is doubly so.