More and more people are using virtual assistants, and even if artificial intelligence isn’t your thing, there’s one clear upside for parents: at least something in the house will listen to you now. Such is the case for the Amazon Echo, but as Quartz reports, the smart speaker who goes by “Alexa” might be a little too accommodating around the house, and it could be turning your kid into jerk. It’s basically BattleBots with babies, and the latter totally started it.
The issue with AI like Alexa (or Siri, or the up-coming Google Home) is that it’s programmed to respond to concise syntax and does not offer any incentive for children to say please or thank you, the way a parent might. In fact, it’s just the opposite and extra words can cause virtual steam to come out of its virtual ears. In order to make sure commands don’t get lost in translation, these bots actually want people to be more direct. So, if your kid hasn’t learned how to be polite yet, that’s fine by them. They’re not capable of noticing if they’re turning your kid into a “raging asshole,” as one dad puts it.
Then again, some parents are welcoming their new robot overlords. “It is important for my kids to be able to empathize with people and read emotions off people and be polite with people,” one mother told Quartz. But “Alexa doesn’t have feelings, and I don’t want her over-personified.” One father of 2 has embraced the more old fashioned approach: lying to his kids. He simply tells them that if they are not polite, Alexa will stop listening to them. But if you’re still concerned, maybe ease your kid into their first relationship with an AI by buying one of those adorable BB-8s — it does what it’s told and doesn’t talk back.