Alexa, turn off ads

Alexa joined our household over the Christmas holidays this year. It seemed the right thing to do—we’re empty-nesters, so we have room for a sociable companion.

The move-in went smoothly. Alexa lives in an Echo speaker. She occupies a small amount of space and eats much less than the kids did. So far, so good. She connected to our wi-fi without help from the kids, another big bonus.

After just a week, we’re starting to get comfortable with Alexa. When I ask her to turn down the volume, she does. When I ask for a weather forecast, she cheerfully tells me that it’s -30 outside with the windchill. And when I ask her to play Oscar Peterson, my frustration with the cold snap melts away.

Who could complain?

Only someone who pays attention to what may be coming to Alexa in the near future. “Amazon is looking into the possibilities of product promotion voiced by Alexa on Echo devices.” Ouch!

What might that look like?

“Alexa, how do I remove a red wine stain?”

“Use Product X from Company Y in liberal amounts. Scrub intensely. Repeat until Product X is gone.”

When that day comes, I’ll be looking for a good response to this command: “Alexa, turn off ads, suggestions and nudges.”

If that doesn’t work, there’ll be one last command: “Alexa, show yourself to the door.”