I try not to show jealousy. Its only infatuation, I tell myself. Still, she appeared brazenly in my kitchen a few weeks ago, sleek and modern. She makes no secret of the fact she’ll do anything for my husband. “Alexa, play Beethoven,” Randy commands. She lights up at the sound of his voice, a cool chromatic blue. “Playing Beethoven, Symphony 6 in C Minor.” I roll my eyes.
I didn’t know Beethoven had a Symphony 6 in C Minor.
No, “Alexa” is not some temptress from Carnegie Hall, but Amazon’s newest voice-activated portal for music, news, and sports. She now sits on my kitchen counter. At 9 inches tall, she carries her 2-pound frame elegantly with wifi brain and hi-tech speaker.
She’s also the third Fembot to invade our marriage.
The first appeared ten years ago. Randy and I were driving around, when this disembodied female voice came from nowhere.
I looked at Randy, confused. “Who was that?”
He beamed proudly. “The GPS chick.”
I should’ve known at that moment, life would never be the same.
Unlike Alexa, whose voice is soft and assured, GPS chick has a plucky, adventurous tone, like she’s up for anything.
I picture her wearing a safari jacket, cameras around her neck. “Let’s drive to Tasmania,” Randy could command. “Begin at the highlighted point,” she’ll reply. “And route guidance will follow.”
Little did I know, GPS chick was only the beginning.
Next came Apple’s “Siri.” I picture this bot as a saucy librarian with horn-rimmed glasses — ever happy to show off her encyclopedic smarts.
“I wonder who’s the oldest serving Senator?” I once mused.
“Let ask Siri,” Randy suggested, pulling out his phone. “Siri, who was the oldest serving senator?”
Siri sifts through data, answering in three seconds. “The oldest serving Senator was Strom Thurmond from South Carolina.”
Randy nods proudly. “Watch this,” he says. “Hey Siri, do you love me?”
A pause and then, “I cannot answer that.” I swear there’s a lilt to her voice. Good God. My husband’s flirting with the phone.
Over the years, I’ve learned to play it cool with these Fembots. I try not to show insecurity. Still, they know everything and how to get everywhere. They never yell. They never get flustered. They’re always cool.
And now the latest has invaded my kitchen.
“Alexa, play Miles Davis.”
“Playing Miles Davis, ‘Sketches in Spain.”
As bluesy trumpet notes fill the air, I stand, making a salad and sigh. This back and forth has been going on for weeks.
I picture Alexa as one of these cool, retro chicks in a Greenwich Village music shop. She has dark hair and a beret. She and my husband speak a language I can’t follow.
And yet deep down, I know this is only the beginning. From what I’ve read, artificial humans are here to stay and I have to admit, I have mixed emotions.
On one hand, I get an evil thrill bossing them around. “Alexa, turn it up,” There’s no please and thank you required. Alexa never gets offended. (And I know I’m getting paranoid, but I swear she “gets confused” over my commands more than Randy’s).
But in other ways, this robot thing makes me uneasy. They’re cheap labor. They never call in sick. They never have an attitude. Even weirder, I feel Alexa is always… well, listening.
I’ve read they’re now making robots with soft skin and lifelike eyes. Will they take over our jobs? Will they become part of our families like servants, pets or… God knows what? Will husbands and wives become obsolete?
In the meantime, what’s a girl to do? What else?
I must search for a Manbot.
He will have Liam Neeson’s voice and sound like he has the body of a lumberjack. His name will be Daniel.
Daniel will help me navigate my world, read my favorite novels to me and answer life’s questions at the press of a button. When Randy gives him a command, he will also “get confused.”
And no doubt, Daniel will also know Beethoven had a 6th Symphony in C Minor.
Yes, like any threatened species, I’m learning to adapt.
Take that, Alexa. Game on.
Are Fem-Bots invading your life? Comments are always welcome and if you like, please share. Thank you!