Why I love Amazon Alexa
Updated: Mar 18, 2020
Do you have an AI to help you out?
AI still isn’t like Star Trek, but it’s pretty impressive
Having had a taste of programming (one class in college), I highly respect anyone with the patience to program and I am amazed at what they can get machines to do. Sometimes Alexa will seem stupid because she doesn’t understand something, but when you consider the fact that the programmers take sound waves, convert it to text, find key words, and search for an answer, without human intuition, it’s amazing that she can do what she does.
Language learning is surprisingly hard for robots, because languages really aren’t that logical, which is all computers have to go on. However, somehow they manage to get Alexa to understand mumbling, accents, and all sorts of vague questions with surprisingly good answers.
All I’m saying is that AI has made some incredible leaps. It’s not yet sentient like Star Trek’s computer (I always wondered why they could make such a great AI, but couldn’t give it a better voice - had it backwards I guess), but it can do a dang lot of cool stuff.
What I use Alexa for
You have probably heard a lot about Alexa’s features, but I’ll tell you what I actually use in application on a regular basis.
What I would have previously Googled, I now usually turn to Alexa first. She is very convenient and doesn’t require the hassle of typing and looking at a screen. I have suffered from digital eye strain a lot and really like that I can reduce it with a voice controlled AI. It's also a lot faster if she gets it right the first time.
Reminders and lists
As David Allen talks about in Getting Things Done, the mind is not meant to store information, but to process it. As such, transferring reminders and lists for Alexa to remember instead of me clears my mind for what is important, not the fact that I need to buy toothpaste at the grocery store, and I need to start getting ready for church at 7:30 AM. I don’t have to watch the clock as much and can be a bit more present with what I’m doing.
She also doubles as an alarm clock. Ross and I use her to wake us up, snooze, as a timer for cooking, and to get the time (that’s one reason why I want to upgrade to an Echo Dot with a clock).
I love listening to the radio with Alexa. I stream from all of my devices in sync and fill the house with music. I listen to Pandora or iHeart Radio usually, and I enjoy that a lot. I have several different stations, depending on whether I want to sing Broadway or dance on my pole. I also use this music to reduce the friction on my exercise routine, as every weekday at 10 AM, she starts playing music which I can hardly resist the urge to sing/dance to.
I never thought I’d be the type to have smart home devices, but they are really convenient. I have two light bulbs that connect with Alexa, so I can change the color and brightness with a voice control. I will admit this does inspire laziness, because now I don’t have to get out of bed to turn the light off, but it also is really convenient to change the lights to any color and any brightness. Especially with my eye strain problems, I like to dim the lights and have warmer colors. A dim red light right before bed is a really nice transition to sleep.
Other fancy Alexa gadgets
The Echo Show has a screen that goes with it.
Now Alexa is built into ear buds called the Echo Buds.
The Echo Glow is an Alexa controlled color lamp.
There are Smart Plugs so Alexa can turn any device on or off.
There is a Smart Power Strip for turning multiple devices on or off.
The Smart Outlet is a fancier version of smart plugs, built by Amazon.
The Smart Thermostat lets you control the set point with Alexa.
There are Smart Light Switches that Alexa can control.
There is a Smart Deadbolt for locking your door.
The Smart Doorbell lets you see who is on the front porch.
Spying on you?
I don’t tell you to buy things here, but if you are interested in an Alexa device, I definitely think they are worth it! Just for fun though, you can watch this video about what a Southern Alexa would be like. Having always lived south of the Mason-Dixon line, I love it! It’s not quite as relevant, but it’s fun!