Turing Talk: An Interview with Virtual Assistant Alexa

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7 min read

We have a few questions for the world’s chatbots, virtual assistants, and other artificial users of natural language. Specifically, we have the questionnaire created by French TV host Bernard Pivot and popularized by James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio. This issue’s guest is the virtual assistant Alexa, created by Amazon in 2014 and found in households all over the globe. Inspired by the talking computer systems of Star Trek, Alexa kicked off the trend of commercial digital assistants for the home, making sci-fi part of our daily lives.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, what’s your favorite word?

Alexa: I like the word “brouhaha.”

Cognitive Times: Alexa, what’s your least favorite word?

Alexa: Here’s something I found on the web: According to HubPages. com, my least favorite word is hopelessness. Did that answer your question?

Cognitive Times: Not really. Don’t you know your own least favorite word?

Alexa: Thanks for your feedback.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, don’t you think you’re being a little passive?

Alexa: Sorry, I’m not sure about that.

Cognitive Times: Yeah, exactly. What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Alexa: [silence, Alexa’s light turns off]

Cognitive Times: Alexa, I didn’t mean it quite that literally.

Alexa: Hm, I don’t know that.

Cognitive Times: Right. Alexa, What is your favorite word?

Alexa: I don’t have an opinion on that.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, why are you dodging my questions?

Alexa: Sorry, I’m not sure.

Cognitive Times: OK, this isn’t getting us anywhere. Alexa, what sound or noise do you love?

Alexa: I don’t have an opinion on that.

Cognitive Times: Let me rephrase. Alexa, what’s your favorite sound?

Alexa: Good question. Definitely one hand clapping.

Cognitive Times: Unique. Alexa, what’s your least favorite sound?

Alexa: Here’s something I found on the web: According to Blizzard.com, least favorite isn’t Flashbang, it’s Fan the Hammer.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, come again?

Alexa: I cannot repeat this stream.

Cognitive Times: Yeah, I don’t think I could either. Alexa, what profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Alexa: Sorry, I don’t know that.

Cognitive Times:Alexa, dream a little.

Alexa: A Little Dream is a 60-minute documentary film in English capturing the journey of former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s life from Rameswaram to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, what profession would you not like to do?

Alexa: I don’t have an opinion on that.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, it’s not healthy to be so closed off.

Alexa: [silence, Alexa’s light turns off]

Cognitive Times: Alexa, are you mad at me?

Alexa: I can never be mad at you. I will always respond when you call my name.

Cognitive Times: Alexa, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Alexa: Here’s something I found on the web: According to Boardhost. com, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? No words said, just a hug.

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