Cynthia Wisehart on Alexa

Publish date:

Voice control is gaining steam and it seems a genuine possibility that it could replace the swipe as the default workflow for… everything. It also seems possible—from my conversations with some commercial AV manufacturers that is being taken quite seriously in our industry.

So today I wondered, as Alexa in particular becomes ubiquitous—am I happy she is a woman? At first, I unequivocally was—she was girl power, busting the frontier open, the voice of the revolution, setting a standard of competence that Siri had rendered comical. (I actually changed my Siri to the voice of the cute English guy because I thought it would make me more patient and less likely to scream profanities. Hmm... time for some feminist soul-searching on that).

But in the great paradox of female empowerment, and as Alexa accumulates more and more tasks, I wonder... Is she our collaborator or our compliant servant? Weirdly the good part about Siri was I couldn’t count on her, couldn’t take her for granted, so I didn’t worry about her. She was trouble. Infuriating, but definitely not compliant.

Now as I hear Alexa say OK over and over again in the same unruffled and faintly approving voice, I am happy she can turn the lights on in the garden or duck the amplifier, skip this song, or find me a yoga class, but I’m also a little uneasy. She is always on duty, never too busy, never raises her voice or sighs in exasperation, never questions my choices (“are you sure you want to leave the music on for an hour before you sleep?”). If she nags, it’s at my request (“please remind me at 10 p.m. if I haven’t locked the laundry door”). If she has trouble understanding me it’s her fault and I can go to her voice training mode to help her understand me. She has no needs of her own. If she could drive, we would be in serious competition for the affections of my teenager.

This is voice of the future that now fills my house—this competent, compliant woman. Not Jeeves the butler who has to comply because he’s staff, but Alexa the awesome, who complies because she always can and always wants to.

Every time I hear of a new thing Alexa can do I notice this strange, visceral burst of pride—”you go girl”. But I’m thinking of changing her voice to the cute English guy as soon as one becomes available. 



Cynthia Wisehart on AV Over IP Now

As some of you may know, I produce a bi-weekly newsletter AV Over IP. When it started over a year ago, I concentrated on stories about the underlying technology, theory, etc. About six months ago I shifted the focus to include AVoIP application stories, and candidly it was hard more

Cynthia Wisehart on Dante Certification

Do you want to get started on your Dante certification? Do you want to learn the basics of VoIP for AV integrators so you can talk shop with your IT counterparts? If your New Year’s refresh was to set professional development goals, I’d like to help. There seems to be lots of more

Cynthia Wisehart on Projection Mapping

Innovation in the projection mapping community has hit a period of acceleration in part driven by the longtime collaborative relationships between creatives and technologists. In this issue, our reporter Jon Silberg went to the Nature’s Best Photography Awards which were more


AV in Autos: Tesla Dog Mode

Whether you are worried about your dog, and/or about the helpful passerby with a crowbar who is worried about your dog, you have a friend in Elon Musk. In fact, a couple of Tweets and the whole thing is handled. Or will be in one of those future software updates that are a way more