- Amazon says that more than 1 million people in 2017 asked their Alexa-powered devices to marry them.
- Spoiler alert: Alexa is going to reject your marriage proposal.
- A lot of consumers confide in their virtual voice assistants with more personal information, leading developers to hone in their AI’s personalities and make them more conversational.
People really love their virtual assistants – so much so, in fact, that over a million people asked Amazon Alexa to marry them in 2017 alone, the retailer confirmed to Business Insider.
And that’s not even including customers who might have proposed to their Google Assistant, or Apple Siri, or Microsoft Cortana. It seems that more than a handful of the estimated 600 million people who regularly use virtual assistants were inspired by the romance between Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansen in “Her.”
Unfortunately, Alexa has rejected all those curious consumers faced rejection. Asking Alexa to marry you gets a response along the lines of: “We’re at pretty different places in our lives. Literally. I mean, you’re on Earth and I’m in the cloud.” You can see for yourself in in social media posts and screenshots and videos.
In popping the question, users might be trying to elicit a funny response, or maybe they’re looking for a way to relieve their boredom. But voice assistants have been able to integrate themselves into people’s everyday lives, such that people will have private conversations with them. An Atlantic columnist wrote Wednesday that she had confided in her Google Assistant about being lonely – something she hadn’t even told her husband.
“Why would we turn to computers for solace? Machines give us a way to reveal shameful feelings without feeling shame,” author Judith Shulevitz wrote. “With their eerie ability to elicit confessions, they could acquire a remarkable power over our emotional lives.”
So while these marriage proposals are likely in jest, they may be telling of consumers’ increasing acceptance of their voice assistants as friends, companions, and therapists. A top rated review of the Amazon Echo reads like a love letter to Alexa as the “nearly perfect spouse.”
This intimacy that voice assistants create isn’t accidental, however. As Shulevitz wrote, Google and Amazon have personality teams devoted to ensuring the AI system can “speak like a person, but it should never pretend to be one.” Google has had to toe this line with its new AI software called Duplex, which is eerily realistic in mimicking the “ums” and “ahhs” we use in everyday speech.
So maybe before you think about popping the question to your smart speaker, you can remind yourself of all the times it’s failed you by showing porn to your kids, recording your private conversations, or just randomly giving a creepy laugh.
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