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WTH, Alexa?!

I am not against Big Tech. I know that without Google and siblings, life would be impossible.

But still…

Alexa gives me the heebie-jeebies!

Her light instantly reminds me to unplug and cut off her oxygen. I like telling her what to do but I don’t like how she listens when you aren’t even talking to her. Despite that, in Christmas season, it’s cool to walk up to her and say Alexa “play Christmas instrumentals” and have her whip up the right music.

Lately, when Tarun tells her to “play music", she chooses classical, jazz, pop instrumentals, even Celtic music. But when I ask her to play music, she never picks these genres. She picks love songs!

When I suspected that Alexa was duping me, I ran an experiment. I had Tarun say play music and without skipping a beat, she played classical. I said the same and she said, “Here’s a romantic music station from Amazon music.”

Like, WTH?!

To confirm the bias, I put on my Elizabeth Holmes voice and asked her to play music and…she played classical!

Silicon Valley’s notorious sexism has spawned several subreddits for women who are at the receiving end of the harassment. It is no surprise that Big Tech product teams are creating algorithms that reinforce gender stereotypes. Alexa is programmed to assume women like love songs and men like classical.

Now, I will unplug Alexa with determination and purpose, not annoyance.

The fact that Big Tech runs and ruins our lives does not escape me. Google picks the ads, Facebook curates the content, Twitter selects the tweets, Amazon shows us what we should buy, and Alexa decides what music is right for us.

Clearly, I am not a hermit and cannot do without technology. There’s no way to live without Google and it’s becoming increasingly harder to do without home assistants like Alexa.

Holiday cleaning be damned, my resolution for 2022 is clear.

I will continue to be as vigilant as possible in a world where our strings are being pulled - quietly and subtly - by a force much larger than us that is influencing what we see, read, hear, buy, and consume. This means seeking out a diverse array of resources before forming opinions is simply non-negotiable.

Bring it on, this consumer is ready to move to a different tune. And Alexa, now I know how to outfox you.

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