Siri,Microsoft

Are Alexa, Siri, and Their Pals Teaching Kids to Be Rude?

February 9, 2017
in Kids

Our lives are beginning to be, um, “populated” virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. For us adults, they’re handy, if occasionally flawed, helpers to whom we say “thank you” upon the successful completion of a task if it hasn’t required too many frustrating, failed attempts. This is a quaint impulse left over from traditional inter-human exchanges. Kids, though, are growing up with these things, and they may be being taught a very different way of communicating. It’s okay if the lack of niceties — “please,” “thank you,” and the like — is contained to conversations with automatons, but neural pathways being susceptible to training as they are, we have to wonder if these habits are going to give rise to colder, less civil communications between people. Parents like Hunter Walk, writing on Medium, are wondering just what kind of little monsters we’re creating. Neuroscientists are in general agreement that when we repeat an action, we build a neural pathway for doing so; the more we repeat it, the more fixed the pathway. This is the...

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