A Trivial Pursuit Kim Clifton March 22, 2018 Second Thoughts I am no longer the smartest woman in my house. I just got canned by a talking one. Her name is Alexa. For those who don’t know her, she’s the chatting gizmo from the Internet-based company, Amazon. Alexa knows everything that has ever happened in the world, back to a time when Adam and Eve were the only ones living in it. On the outside, she looks like a container for chicken noodle soup, but it’s on the inside that she really starts cooking. Alexa answers questions about anything from anyone. There’s no computer, no keyboard, and no typing. I felt pretty stupid the first time I had a conversation with this brainy container. Now I feel pretty stupid that I’m outsmarted by it. Alexa can rattle off the value of Pi as effortlessly as she can tell you the recipe for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My husband is so reliant that he begins every day by asking her the forecast. It’s a bit disconcerting to think that he talks to her before he talks to me, but truthfully she does wake up quicker. All he has to do is say her name and she lights up for him. Not me. He knows better than to call out my name until I’ve had at least two cups of coffee and a hot shower. Alexa and I are so different. I talk when I should be listening. She only speaks when spoken to. I tell you more than you wanted to know and she answers concisely like a cautious witness on the stand. Robert is intrigued that she knows so much. I’m intrigued that he believes her. He takes her word for anything he doesn’t know and questions me about things he should. The other day he blindly accepted her declaration that the Cincinnati Reds won the 1940 World Series but got up to check when I said it had stopped raining. As fun as it is, this Amazon toy isn’t the first talking appliance I’ve seen. My sister’s 1987 Nissan had a warning system that played voice alerts when problems were detected. I’m not sure which was scarier…riding with a door that was open or riding with someone who had to be told that it was. While Alexa is valuable now, she would have been invaluable back in the day. When I was in school, we researched the hard way. There was no machine to help. We had to actually leave the house, go to the library, flip through the card catalog and check out books. It meant reading chapters and taking notes. It required commitment. It required time. That’s a far cry from sitting in the den and calling out requests without looking up from a game of Candy Crush. As much as we enjoy the Alexa device, I think Amazon missed its chance to offer full service. Robert only asks her if he needs a jacket when he leaves the house. I need to know if the one I’m wearing makes me look fat. And that my keys are still in the pocket of the one I took off last night. What seemed like a fun Christmas gift for my husband has backfired. He’s got a new friend and I’ve got a new foe. Every day brings a new battle of wits between this talking can and me…too bad she’s the only one armed.