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Is Alexa Your Friend?

Posted May 27, 2017 12:00 PM by M-ReeD

Are Alexa, Siri, and Roomba making up the members of your ‘Sex-and-the City”-like posse? Are you confiding in or laughing with them? Or are you treating them like pets?

Researchers from the University of Michigan interested in the increased rates of feelings of loneliness and isolation recently being reported, conducted a series of experiments to determine if interactive products are capable of filling a social void for lonely people.

In a series of experiments, the results of which are published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Carolyn Yoon, professor of marketing, found that more and more people are relying on these devices for social interaction, in some cases treating the devices like pets (Roomba) by naming them or referring to them as “he” or “she.”

In one of the experiments, participants were asked how many Facebook friends they had. When a participant reported the number to another person, it was exaggerated (a tell-tale sign of loneliness). However, the participant was more likely to confide the actual number of Facebook friends he or she had to a device.

Although researchers found that people were relying on the devices for social interaction, they also report that once the participant was reminded that the product was just a device, the effect vanished.

Concerned that people will not pursue relationships outside of the ones they have created with these products as long as they continue to become more realistic, researchers are urging product designers to consider the harmful consequences of creating devices that mimic humans.

On the flip side, however, researchers do see the benefit of humanized devices in terms of future healthcare related scenarios. For example, using the device as a nurse, home health aide, or health monitor.

So while your imagined “Sex-and-the-City” brunch with Siri, Roomba, and Alexa isn’t likely for now, it may soon be a reality as these devices become more and more realistic.

Do you talk to your devices? Do you treat them like a friend or a pet?

Image credit:

Tibor Antalóczy / CC BY-SA 3.0

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#1

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/27/2017 6:04 PM

Between Amazon and Google, none of us have any secrets. If you want to buy something, check Amazon. If you have an idea, Google it to see if anyone else has the same idea. Now we have these "assistants" right in our homes.

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#2

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/27/2017 10:38 PM

Good grief. Social media is ruining this world.

I have a Roomba. I push a button and it goes and does it's thing. The only other interaction is when it needs to be cleaned out.

I also have two Echos, one in the bedroom and one in the kitchen. They are mainly used to manage my grocery list, tell me news and weather and play radio stations that I have a hard time getting locally.

Purely functional. I live alone. And I hate vacuuming.

Hooker

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#12
In reply to #2

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 1:55 PM

I have a Roomba. I push a button and it goes and does it's thing. The only other interaction is when it needs to be cleaned out.

CR4ers: we need to put our heads together and create a Roomba that cleans/empties itself!

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 2:21 PM

done!,... I call her 'Sheila'.

She also does the dishes and the laundry,... most of the times.

Also she's a poor GPS.... "Oh, you're going 'this way'. " or,... "I think you should have turned right back there...."

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#15
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 2:44 PM

"CR4ers: we need to put our heads together and create a Roomba that cleans/empties itself!"

We already had them once and they did far more. Then we let them have rights officially and things rather went downhill from there.

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#16
In reply to #12

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 3:21 PM

It's actually not that difficult. For example creating a docking station for the Roomba to go to and dump its contents when it detects it is full (suction pressure sensing, etc). However this increases the cost and in addition just moves the problem to people having to empty the docking station.

We could get it to work if we made the rubbish bin a compatible docking station, but that would just be making people tooooooooooo lazy.

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#3

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 1:49 PM

Your friend?.... here something to think about, If you have Alexa, watch these videos on this link and try it.

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#4

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 6:25 PM

alexa 3.0

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#10
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 8:45 PM

Well if 3.0 looks like that I may have it break down and get one.

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#11
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 12:28 PM

I prefer the Cherry 2000.

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#13
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/30/2017 2:20 PM

ya,... sure your do....

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#17
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 6:43 AM

Damn....I can't un-see that.

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#18
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 7:04 AM

Now you see it everywhere.

.

.

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#19
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 8:12 AM

Maybe the image will fade by the time I go to bed tonight so I don't have nightmares.

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#20
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 8:19 AM

I hope so,... I don't want you to have to take those thoughts to bed with you....

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#21
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 8:28 AM

It certainly wouldn't be intentional

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 4:00 PM

One bad photo and its all over the web scaring children and voters everywhere. She did other things both good and bad too.

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#23
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/31/2017 6:08 PM

Imo,... That night she was nominated as the democratic candidate. How aspheric carried herself, and her actions didn't appear normal. And everything after... her fainting, continuous coughing fits... which continues to this day...

i trust no one

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#24
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

06/01/2017 10:13 AM

How aspheric she carried

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#25
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

07/25/2017 8:09 AM

What good???

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#26
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

07/25/2017 3:56 PM

Now, now. Have a look yourself, no one can realistically deny she did plenty of good while in office. It's the other things she has (and supposedly has done) that paint a darker picture of her character that are concerning for a potential leader of a whole country.

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#27
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

07/25/2017 6:04 PM

I'm always willing to be educated. Could you please outline the "plenty of good while in office" that Hillary did?

Thanks. Seriously!

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#28
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

07/26/2017 8:02 AM

She brought a lot of foreign money into the states through and to the Clinton Foundations.

Until they move it or constructed a branch in Canada to shield it's donors.

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#5

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 7:31 PM

When a participant reported the number to another person, it was exaggerated (a tell-tale sign of loneliness)

Really, I would have said it was related to the human condition of making yourself look better rather than loneliness.

I see no mentions of 'actual people you interact with in person' (previously they used to just be called 'friends').

in some cases treating the devices like pets (Roomba) by naming them or referring to them as “he” or “she.”

You know what makes a better pet, an actual living pet. I have cats and I talk to them all the time, perhaps AI will come to the rescue and make it less psychologically damaging and creepy to confide in or share a joke with a vacuum cleaner.

What the heck is going on in Michigan? Perhaps people should be looking into Michigan's problems before a spate of people/Roomba suicides occurs.

I do however agree, humans are a social people and have a need for social interaction, even if they have to stretch the definition of interaction to get it. Modern communication is having a detrimental effect on our physical interaction with other people and this will likely only get worse. When we start to dehumanise ourselves this can only make our lives worse.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 8:09 PM

The best conversations I've ever had were with my orange cat buddy of 21 years. He outlasted two wives and was a much better conversationalist.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 8:13 PM

Good lord! 17 more years of Mr and Ms Squeek to go! (My first two kitties.)

My Grandma had a cat that made it ~ 28 years.

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#8
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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 8:29 PM

One of mine has recently taken to growling, hissing and spitting at me while simultaneously wanting me to pat and show affection towards her. Sounds like I already have a wife.

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Re: Is Alexa Your Friend?

05/28/2017 8:44 PM

I was out late mowing the yard last night and didn't give mine their evening canned food and chopped hotdogs treat so at one point Mr squeak was following me around the yard obviously meowing to let me know I was not doing the right job at the right time.

The Ex before she was not the ex couldn't muster that sort of effort to let me know something and she too would growl and hiss at me while demanding attention as well.

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