Changing codes of sociability – the Human-AI bond

Earlier this year, #Amazon’s #Alexa marked 3 years in India! An article by the Indian Express claimed that “interactions with voice assistants have gone up 67% in 2020.”

Over the last few years, we have been observing more and more #Indian’s bringing Alexa into their #homes.  As people develop a sense of comfort in #conversing with voice assistants like Alexa, one can expect a shift in the ways they interact with the humans around them. Moreover, as voice assistants become an integral part of an Indian household, we need to recognize the various ways in which it begins to impact family dynamics.

Let’s explore this through an example:

If you are seeking some factual information from a person, there is always an acceptance that they might not have knowledge on the said topic. There is no guarantee that our question will be adequately answered.

However, seeking information from Alexa on any topic is a quick and efficient process. Voice assistants tend to provide an extremely quick response to almost any factual question. Since such interactions are definitely not part of the mundane, we find it exciting and entertaining to hold such conversations and do not pause to think of its effects on our everyday social interactions. 

Over time, we might begin to find it tiresome to engage with fellow humans on such matters. As we become habituated to Alexa’s quick and accurate responses, we will begin to lose patience with people as it will seem too exhausting. In short, as a voice assistant’s response time will become a standard expectation, and we might not want to spend our energy discussing these with fellow humans.

One might argue here, that we have had the internet for quite some time as well..has that really transformed our interactions with humans (and family?). At a general level, yes, the internet has definitely affected our everyday communication. However, what is important to note is that unlike the internet, the voice assistants are ‘talking’ and this puts them in the same playing field as humans. 

Author: Rupali Kapoor 

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