The use of communication becoming automated . . . “Hey, Alexa!”


Communicating with individuals, robots and machines are a part of some individual’s lives that live in first world countries. For some Americans, the use of communication has become so monotonous, streamline and assisted that it enables the user to become reliant on a machine, robot or personal assistant like device to handle the job or task.

With the use of communication the range of possibilities remained wide open. In this week’s reading from Mary Chayco’s book, SuperConnected: The Internet, Digital Media & Techno-Social Life, she states, ” Licklider described all kinds of possible uses for computerization, including digital libraries, e-commerce, and online banking, and he also envisioned a point-and-click system for using the computer” (Chayco, p. 19). The highly intuitive “world wide web” was breaking through ground as early as 1950, however some of us were not keen on how all of this would come together or perhaps had no idea this was beginning to set a precedent for the future of communication.

The use of robotics made its debut in the early 1950’s. Chayco said, “In 1954, American inventor George Devol laid the foundation for the field of robotics with the first digitally operated and programmed robot, named Unimate, which worked on a New Jersey assembly line” (Chayco, p. 19). More of this was in the works and Chayco furthers this concept with the following statement, “An extension of artificial intelligence, robots, guided by computer programs, would take on rote tasks that could be automated, but they would also, as we shall see, take on more complex tasks over time and become more lifelike” (Chayco, p.19). The use of robots was becoming centralized and congruent with the use of technology and communication.

But, let’s switch gears quickly . . .

As you may know, in the 21st century some of us have access to voice activated systems, such as Siri, Alexa, etc. and it sure does make life a little easier… well that’s what we like to believe right? As we learned about earlier and from Chayco the use of and integration of robots and robotic machines with human-like capabilities began it’s debut in the early 1950’s, but flipping ahead 60 years, users now have access to smaller voice-activated robotic like machines, similar to Alexa.

Amazon released a personal device for your home, business, and car or wherever you are to help provide you with assistance with your day-to-day lives. Alexa allows a user to ask just about anything and the virtual assistant will provide you with an answer.

The connection with other technology on the market!

As Alexa continues to gain popularity and newer technologies are released the compatibility of Alex and the new technology will need to continue to work in congruence. Earlier in the reading Chayco mentions how older technologies will work to become compatible with newer technologies or the newer technologies will integrate or become compatible for the older devices. Chayco said the following in response to this, “”Interestingly, as new technologies are invented, they do not necessarily supplant those that came before but are often used in combination with them, sometimes inspiring changes in how the existing technologies operate or are used (see Dunbar-Hester, 2014; Jenkins, 2006; Volti, 2014)” (Chayco, p.17). Even during the 1800’s communication and technology were setting the foundation for the future.

What’s next?

As we begin to forecast the future, what’s next or likely to be introduced in the form of technology and the use of communication it’s no surprise some of the hottest products out there are leading the way. Amazon’s Alexa is working on it’s own robot for the home as of April, 2018. It’s something that’s not ready it, but some companies have begun to introduce similar like devices and Amazon’s Alex recently expanded it’s capabilities to include it’s own “skills.” The skills are referred to as commands that are synced with other technology-advanced devices around your home that enable “smart-like” features to communicate and cooperate alongside the virtual assistant, Alexa.

Read more on the article featuring the future of Amazon’s robot-like Alexa.

Posted on September 16, 2018, in Social Media. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Drakek2454,

    I had my first experience with an Amazon Echo this Summer. We used it for approximately a week, mainly to ask Alexa to play our music or to check the weather. However, I was apprehensive to have one in our home to begin with because of privacy issues I had read about. I realized that it seemed Alexa was indeed gathering some sort of data on us rather than when we were addressing “her” directly. I noticed different ads or recommended products in my shopping cart that I hadn’t actually searched for on the web or on my Amazon Prime account. It seemed that this information was being “listened” to and then turned into recommendations. It could be my paranoia but I’ve been researching A.I. and its developing capabilities in a course focused on Technology Futures and it seems plausible. The technology is amazing and somewhat terrifying!

    As we begin to use these automated devices more in our lives, I am increasingly concerned about my privacy. Do you have concerns with privacy implications?

    By the way, we unplugged Alexa and she may be permanently retired. I respect the technology but value privacy more.

    Great post!


    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thank you for the reply! I do see exactly where you are coming from and I, myself, have privacy issues with others gaining access to my personal information, however I value the technology greatly and I do see the upsides of using “Alexa” on a daily basis.

      Additionally, when my family and I began to set up the device(s) across our household we did not choose the option to upload our contacts or connect to our mobile phones. By doing so, we disabled the functionality of Alexa to call/text/message others and to limit the capabilities of others when they come over to explore these options. I am aware that Alexa has other features which allow you to restrict the voice she listens to and set this as one voice or to leave the voice recognition feature enabled so she understands any voice.

      While there are restrictions on the features and functionalities of using this device I do so your point about privacy. While I have not had any experiences so far of Alexa recording our conversations or tailoring specific ads on a website based on our conversations I will certainly be more attentive to this matter and see if this is an issue that arises in the near future.

      I do think with every piece of technology we use their are drawbacks and limitations to using the device. For now, I’m set on keeping Alexa as she serves a huge role in our household of providing updates, traffic reports, weather conditions, plays music and acts a personal assistance wihtout actually fetching, like a dog, to bring you your coffee. Although she can place orders for you, but this still does require you to retrieve whatever is being sent to you.

      Great insight and experiences. Thank you for sharing.

      – Kim

      • Kim,

        Thank you for sharing your positive experiences and how you set your family’s privacy settings. I know I will become more comfortable with these devices over time.

        Thanks again for your insight!

  2. When the Google Home came out a few years ago, my oldest son (now 19) absolutely had to have one. He simply could not understand why my husband and I didn’t want a few as well. He was frustrated as we laughed a little that he had purchased this device for his room and then gone out and purchased $100 light bulbs so that he could make Google turn off the lights in his room. He would come home from work each night and open his door, walk past the light switches and yell, “Hey Google, turn on the lights.” Google would respond, “Now turning on two lights to 100%.” In the time it took he and Google to work all that out, he could have flipped the switch 300 times.

    I am 39 and my husband is 49. Between us, we have an iPhone 7plus, an older android, two mediocre laptops that do what we need, and an iPad for my business. I don’t buy into needing the latest and greatest the minute those items are released to the public. My sons, on the other hand, they have to have the latest and greatest the second it drops on the market. I wonder how much of that is generational? I do know some adults in my age range who want the latest and greatest – but I know way more young adults and children who feel this way.

    Thanks for your share!


    • Hi Rebecca,

      I appreciate you sharing your experiences with this type of technology and how yes the commands are easy to “speak” and have a device react to what’s being said, but you also make a great point about your son and his movement patterns. With your sons movements, he easily could have turned the lights on himself like mention, but how much of this is generational? I do think you are catching onto something here. With technology being at out disposal, some of us want to use and access it all times, whenever possible and some even rely on it until it faults…

      As we grow into more technological society, I only wonder how this will shape our future , our movements, patterns and behaviors. Will the increasing introduction of new technology be positive or will it serve as a nuisance and distraction?

      I guess time will tell..

      Thanks for your response!

      – Kim

  3. Hi Kim,

    There was a great story on 60 Minutes last night called “Making Ideas into Reality at MIT’s ‘Future Factory’” reported by Scott Pelley. It was a fascinating look at technology under development such as a computer than can “read your mind” by using sensors that pick up the electrical impulses our brains send to our vocal chords when we are thinking about speaking. Here is a link to the 60 Minutes story:

    Your blog post reminded me of it because you wrote about the history of the development of robotics and how it dates back to the 1950s. The 60 Minutes story explains how MIT developed a street-viewing technology called “Movie Map” in 1979 and a navigation system called “Back Seat Driver” decades before Google came out with its apps. MIT also created a touch screen in the 1980s and one of the earliest flat screens, which cost half a million dollars.

    The MIT lab even developed what Pelley calls “the grandfather of Siri and Alexa.” I looked it up and it was a computer system called ELIZA that could hold a conversation through typing. Check out a demonstration of it in this YouTube video posted by Emma Goldman:



    • Hi Angie,

      Thank you for sharing this story from 60 minutes. This is fascinating! The use of robotics and all the technology and brilliant ideas individuals and organizations stored within their data bases or brains back in the day amazes me. They provided much of the foundation for the increase of technology in our everyday lives.

      Further, this makes me think about Apple and their latest launches of new technology whether it’s a new MacBook, IPhone, IWatch, etc. They are at the forefront of everything and I begin to wonder how many IPhones ahead they are in the brainstorming stages and I can only imagine the rows and endless shelves of each new generation of this device already developed… All of this technology brings me back to the days where it gained its roots from. Surely, the individuals who had these bright ideas may not be receiving all the credit, but their ideas have led to actual product developments or improvements and enhancements.

      Thank you for providing the additional story and YouTube link. My mind is beginning to wonder how many years ahead of us these think tanks and individuals are with developing new technology.

      I appreciate the additional articles and stories. These are terrific.

      Thank you,


  4. Hi Kim,

    I really enjoyed your blog post and am feeling inspired to try out Siri and/or Alexa. Admittedly, I am a bit behind the times and have yet to “talk” to either of these helpful gals. Speaking of, where did you find that “What Alexa Can Do” image?

    I especially like your open-ended “What’s next?” closing paragraph, illustrating the notion that we are merely resting atop the tip of the technological iceberg here in 2018. Metaphors aside, technology will continue to rapidly evolve in the years ahead, making ownership and security increasingly crucial along the way.

    Nicely done!

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