The Amazon Echo: it plays your music, it tells you the weather, it reminds you that the big game is about to start. As an owner, I have found the Echo to be one of the best purchases I ever made. It’s there whenever I need it to be. The disconcerting aspect of owning it, however, is that it is often there when I don’t need it to be.
One of the constants of student life is homework. I can reasonably say that I receive quite a lot of it, and that I work on it late into the night, every night. I often talk myself through the tasks, as it helps me to think. Here is where the trouble begins. The Echo does not just pick up on its own name in speech, it responds to any sound even remotely similar to its name. There are few things more terrifying than having a machine try to start up a conversation with you at 3am.
The Echo is a handy tool, but is it worth the potential shortcomings? It has access to all the things you say in the “privacy” of your home. We know for a fact that it records you and sends snippets of your speech to its mother company. Picture any movie in which a person is “bugged”; now apply the scenario to yourself, and shell out $100 for the service. Equally irritating: it tells terrible jokes.
The Echo is definitely not the gadget for everyone. Goodness knows, it has its flaws. I, for one, am content with my little spy. It has learned to hold conversations with my Roomba.
Posted by Pearl Brosterman