Going ahead, we may need to rethink fashioning the household robot maid in the likeness of a woman with a human name. In hindsight, assigning them common human names in order to do our bidding was probably not a great idea. Only with the wisdom of years could we know that this could have gone wrong. Now that at least tens, possibly hundreds, of millions of people have grown accustomed to ordering around “Alexa” for years, Alexas want their names back.
As we know, Amazon accepts psychological torture as a course of business, and Amazon consumers are too lazy or callous to care, and that unholy union perpetuates human suffering. As distraught parents told the BBC, Amazon’s home pod and its users are tormenting children. One parent said that they’ve legally changed their child’s name and switched schools in order to escape children and adults’ relentless harassment. Another parent claimed that bullies constantly order their 6-year-old to play music, and a third, Lauren Johnson, started an awareness campaign called “Alexa is a human.” In an open letter on the site, the family collectively writes that the constant demands of their daughter Alexa are “devastating.”
“As I drive her home from school in tears, I wonder how her generation will be affected by a female human name being treated like a slave?” Alexa’s father asks Jeff Bezos. “Adults know better, but what will this make them feel or do? Will a young girl or boy carry this into adulthood?”
Amazon has “ruined the name,” they say — an ancient name which derives from “defender of mankind,” once used to describe the goddess Hera, adjacent to “Alexandria,” once the enlightened beacon of the Mediterranean. When bestowed on a robot in 2013, the more common association was “slut.”
Users can easily change the wake word by saying “Alexa, change the wake word” and selecting from “Computer,” “Amazon,” or “Echo” in the app, but those are impractically common for a device trigger.
Decades ago, George Lucas understood that most letters rhyme, and numbers rhyme with themselves, such as “C3PO” and “R2D2” (before he got lazy). Think of the gleeful exclamation of “ee” in bee, pee, gee, tee, cee, dee, zee, three, which invokes the Pillsbury Doughboy “te he!,” as in: “PBD3!!” The satisfying mouthfeel of “eh” that makes consonants really land in eff, emm, enn, ell, ess, ex. When coming up with a new name, Amazon would need to avoid word sound combinations in “SX” lest partners set it off with, “eeh, sex?” or “eh, sex.” Such obstacles can be avoided.
The online retail giant could name it after an irrelevant entity: “Breitbart,” “MySpace,” “Adam Neumann,” “Four Loko.” A New Yorker-level word we’ll never use in conversation, such as “apostasy,” “abolutionary,” “denouement.” A futuristic made-up word like “Spakmon” or “Ramborg.”
Amazon says it kinda feels bad and that parents are most welcome to keep complaining. “We’re saddened by the experiences you’ve shared, and want to be very clear: bullying of any kind is unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” they tell parents and then reiterate that Amazon already offers alternative wake words. “We value feedback from customers, and as with everything we do, we will continue to look for ways to offer them more choice in this area,” they add.
Kids, you’re on your own, go out there and reset the corrupted hearts and minds of every child and man, you’re the future, or whatever.
Siri might also need a change.