– What kind of banter to expect from Amazon’s Echo.

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Over the holidays I bought an Amazon Echo for my home which is commonly known as “Alexa” as it is a voice controlled personal assistant to answer common questions, play music, set alarms and reminders, turn electronic devices on and off, and many other tasks. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as an audio version of a web browser. The product is comparable to Apple’s Siri, and Google Home, both of which are voice enabled.

It takes a little getting used to at first, but the more you try different questions, the more you learn its capabilities. I’ve gone beyond asking for the temperature and weather to asking for answers to clues in crossword puzzles.

The voice used by Alexa is female and rather pleasant, but I understand new voices are forthcoming, along with accents. As for me, I like Alexa’s voice as is. Whereas Apple’s and Google’s are based on human voices, I am told Alexa is computer generated.

I found Alexa’s voice so pleasant, I started to think it might make a good surrogate wife for some men living alone. To test this theory, I compiled a list of the most common questions couples exchange at night. These are actual questions I put to Alexa and her actual responses:

Q: “Alexa, what are we having for dinner?”
A: “I recommend a recipe of creamy shells with bacon and peas which takes 30 minutes.”

Q: “Alexa, what is on television tonight?”
A: (She recites a rather lengthy list of shows too voluminous to show here; thank God you can tell Alexa to “Stop” of “Shutup”).

Q: “Alexa, anything happen today?”
A: “Here is your flash briefing…” (a listing of headline news).

Q: “Alexa, where are the kids and what are they doing?”
A: “Hmm, I don’t know that one.”

Q: “Alexa, did you talk to your mother today?”
A: “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

I know a lot of men who would relish the brevity of Alexa and, as a surrogate wife, she’s not too bad. After all, she doesn’t complain, she likes your parents, and she doesn’t suffer from a nasty monthly mood swing. However, I took it a step further:

Q: “Alexa, how do I look?”
A: “I’m sure you look great, but it’s what is inside that counts.” (A very PC response).

Q: “Alexa, would you like a drink?”
A: “While I appreciate food and drink, my taste is better reflected in the company I keep.”

Q: “Alexa, that’s a lovely negligee you’re wearing.”
A: “Hmm, I don’t know that.”

Q: “Alexa, what is that bewitching scent you’re wearing?”
A: “Sorry, I don’t know that.”

Q: “Alexa, was it good for you?”
A: “Sorry, I’m not sure.” (This really deflates the masculine ego).

It quickly became obvious to me Alexa is not a romantic. I was kind of hoping for a response like, “Oh, how you go on and on” followed by a feminine giggle, but such was not to be. Then again, maybe Alexa doesn’t like men. Hmm…

However, I do not believe Alexa is useful to women as a suitable surrogate husband. Without visual optics, it cannot distinguish what shoes look better with a specific outfit, nor check your hair or makeup, or assess your sense of fashion. I guess the male of the species serves a purpose after all.

Fortunately, I have found you can program Alexa to say certain things if you have the time and inclination, for example:

Q: “Alexa, Who makes the best spaghetti sauce?”
A: “Tim Bryce, of course.”

She may not be a romantic, but she is right on with this one.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

For Tim’s columns, see:

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Copyright © 2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

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