Categorized | Features, Laurie's Scribbles

Who Do These Annoying Fembots Think They Are?

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Over the years, Laurie has learned to play it cool with Fembots.

By Laurie Stone

I try not to show jealousy. It’s only infatuation, I tell myself. Still, she appeared brazenly in my kitchen a few weeks ago, sleek and modern. She makes no secret of the fact she’ll do anything for my husband. “Alexa, play Beethoven,” Randy commands. She lights up at the sound of his voice, a cool chromatic blue. “Playing Beethoven, Symphony 6 in F Major.” I roll my eyes.

I didn’t know Beethoven had a Symphony 6 in F Major.

No, Alexa is not some temptress from Carnegie Hall, but Amazon’s voice-activated portal for music, news, and sports. She now sits on my kitchen counter. At 9 inches tall, she carries her 2-pound frame elegantly with Wi-Fi brain and hi-tech speaker.

She’s also the third Fembot to invade our marriage.

The first appeared 10 years ago. Randy and I were driving around, when this disembodied female voice came from nowhere.

“Turn left.”

I looked at Randy, confused. “Who was that?”

He beamed proudly. “The GPS chick.”

I should’ve known at that moment, life would never be the same.

Up for Adeventure

Unlike Alexa, whose voice is soft and assured, GPS chick has a plucky, adventurous tone, like she’s up for anything.

I picture her wearing a safari jacket, cameras around her neck. “Let’s drive to Tasmania,” Randy could command. “Begin at the highlighted point,” she’ll reply. “And route guidance will follow.”

Little did I know, GPS chick was only the beginning.

Next came Apple’s “Siri.” I picture this bot as a saucy librarian with horn-rimmed glasses — ever happy to show off her encyclopedic smarts.

“I wonder who was the oldest serving Senator?” I once mused.

“Let ask Siri,” Randy suggested, pulling out his phone. “Siri, who was the oldest serving senator?”

Siri sifts through data, answering in three seconds. “The oldest serving Senator was Strom Thurmond from South Carolina.”

Randy nods proudly. “Watch this,” he says. “Hey Siri, do you love me?”

A pause and then, “I cannot answer that.” I swear there’s a lilt to her voice. Good God, my husband’s flirting with the phone.

Over the years, I’ve learned to play it cool with these Fembots. I try not to show insecurity. Still, they know everything and how to get everywhere. They never yell. They never get flustered. They’re always cool.

And now the latest has invaded my kitchen.

“Alexa, play Miles Davis.”

“Playing Miles Davis, Sketches in Spain.”

As bluesy trumpet notes fill the air, I stand, making a salad and sigh. This back and forth has been going on for weeks.

Laurie Stone fembotsI picture Alexa as one of these cool, retro chicks in a Greenwich Village music shop. She has dark hair and a beret. She and my husband speak a language I can’t follow.

And yet, deep down, I know this is only the beginning. From what I’ve read, artificial humans are here to stay and I have to admit, I have mixed emotions.

On one hand, I get an evil thrill bossing them around. “Alexa, turn it up,” There’s no please and thank you required. Alexa never gets offended. (And I know I’m getting paranoid, but I swear she “gets confused” over my commands more than Randy’s).

What’s Next?

But in other ways, this robot thing makes me uneasy. They’re cheap labor. They never call in sick. They never have an attitude. Even weirder, I feel Alexa is always … well, listening.

I’ve read they’re now making robots with soft skin and lifelike eyes. Will they take over our jobs? Will they become part of our families like servants, pets or … God knows what?  Will husbands and wives become obsolete?

In the meantime, what’s a girl to do? What else?

I must search for a Manbot.

He will have Liam Neeson’s voice and sound like he has the body of a lumberjack. His name will be Daniel.

Daniel will help me navigate my world, read my favorite novels to me and answer life’s questions at the press of a button. When Randy gives him a command, he will also “get confused.”

And no doubt, Daniel will also know Beethoven had a 6th Symphony in F Major.

Yes, like any threatened species, I’m learning to adapt.

Take that, Alexa.  Game on.

Laurie Stone writes from the woods of Easton, Conn. Her blog, Musings, Rants &Scribbles,” shares thoughts on growing up, older and (hopefully) wiser. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

10 Responses to “Who Do These Annoying Fembots Think They Are?”

  1. We had an Alexa for exactly one week several years ago. I found it so creepy and disturbing I demanded it be removed from the premises. It kept turning on from a dead sleep answering questions or interjecting into conversations. Nope. I saw The Stepford Wives. I’m having none of it!

  2. Nina says:

    I made my Siri have a male voice with an English accent. I always wanted a male assistant. I call him Tristan and imagine he’s sort of Superman like. You know, horn rimmed glasses and non assuming in the office, with that wonderful save the world shift I swoon for.

  3. Diane says:

    Daniel can take her!

  4. Lisa says:

    She listens to more than your requests!

  5. Arlene says:

    I swear Siri got annoyed with my husband and stopped talking to him.

  6. This is hilarious—and true! My hubster’s GPS is named Jennifer. Is it a coincidence that this is also the name of his favorite singer (Jennifer Nettles)? I think not. And the fembot in our kitchen. Gah. Don’t get me started. I love your idea of a Daniel. Yeah, baby. 🙂

  7. Colette says:

    I loved this piece ( I guess I have said that about every piece, but I so enjoy your writing!)
    I do believe you can change the fembot to a manbot … just ask her? Lol. Jokes on Alexa, Siri and GPSbot.

  8. Alana says:

    I have been partial to Siri vs Alexa but in the past few months, I am positive Siri has become glitchy. My son, who has an interest in computer security, maintains both Siri and Alexa do listen to everything. We keep our Echo near our TV and I may end up getting rid of it. My husband will not use either one.

  9. Ann Donnelly says:

    Laurie this is perfection! You have expressed what evetyone else is feeling with charm and humor. Love it

  10. Great story Laurie! My husband loves Alexa, but I find her nosy and intrusive. She’s not allowed in the kitchen or bedroom (wink). Though I have nothing to hide, I don’t want Big Brother eyeballing my world either.

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