Alexa, are you actually qualified to offer couples counselling?
Virtual assistants such as Alexa and Google Home will very soon be able to listen to couples at home and predict, with 75% accuracy, the likelihood of a relationship succeeding. Researchers at Imperial College Business School say acoustic analysis of interpersonal patterns would lead to tailored relationship advice. In other words, devices will eavesdrop on arguments, then stick their oar in, probably with a misheard Wikipedia page or YouTube video. “I WANT YOU TO DO THE BINS,” someone will scream, at the end of their tether. “Here’s I Want a Benz, ft Nipsey Hustle and 50 Cent,” Alexa will interrupt, drowning out the budding argument with irrelevant hip-hop.
Not that relationships should be immune to outside analysis – far from it. Identifying friction between communications styles – for instance between “report” speech concerning facts and “rapport” speech which builds relationship – can work wonders. Michelle Obama recently discussed how she and her husband have gone through couples counselling; their relationship is such a model of respect and love that it has become a totem of those virtues in our bitter world. Everyone should do couples counselling. You are learning an emotional language together, to ensure you stay healthy.
Electronic assistants do have an advantage, in that they speak so dispassionately and slowly that any anger in the room will eventually dissipated and replaced by mild boredom. But the bald fact is they exist primarily to make us more efficient consumers. Domestic contentment is antithetical to their primary objective, and the only relationship they are truly invested in is that of us as indentured corporate vassals. Do any persons here have reasonable objection to Cortana being put in charge of human relationships? I do.