As pointed out in the now-famous meme, people of the 1960’s were cautious of things they shared over the telephone fearing that the government had wire-tapped their house. Now, we excitedly invite the wiretap into our homes and ask it how to make pancakes. Of course, we’re talking about the recent wave of voice-activated virtual assistants, the most common which is Alexa, as featured on the Amazon Echo.

Integrated into homes everywhere, the Echo can be paired with any number of household devices, while rendering others obsolete. After all, why invest the energy of looking at a clock when you just ask Alexa what time it is? Why endure hand-cramps when writing down a shopping list, when you can simply dictate it? But Alexa is so much more than that. Maybe you want an unseeing/all-knowing robot’s opinion of your shirt. Maybe you want to compare her beatbox skills with that of Siri. Maybe you want to be reminded of the rules of Fight Club (shit, we just broke Rule #1). Or maybe you’re just lonely…either way, Alexa has you covered.

But if you love the slightly creepy convenience of Alexa, but prefer to take your paranoia and irrational fear of surveillance on the road, you’re going to love Amazon’s newest take on the celebrated virtual assistant. And you’ll be able to find it come 2020, in the all-new Chevy Alexa.

Throughout the country, a small number of dealerships were tasked with offering feedback on camouflaged trial models of the Alexa. As certain members of the press were invited to participate in test drives, The Lemon made its way to a Chevy dealer in Albany NY. Our first impression? It was everything that we could have hoped for. Not since the adventures of David Hasselhoff and K.I.T.T. in television’s Knight Rider, have we experienced such a symbiotic (if not slightly unnerving) relationship between car and driver. At least this time, the interaction isn’t quite so homoerotic.

But man on digital-man action is the least of Chevy’s concerns…

Many Alexa users have reported inexplicable behavior which is best described as ‘creepy.’ Like the woman who shut the lights off before going to bed, and Alexa says, “Good Night, Clarice.” Aside from the fact that her name wasn’t Clarice, that’s a quote from Hannibal ‘The Cannibal; Lechter in ‘Silence of the Lambs.’ Perhaps the most publicized example of creepy behavior is Alexa’s tendency to break out in random bursts of laughter. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to strange laughter throughout your house. Amazon stepped up and promised a fix to this disconcerting programming, but not imagine this: Alexa breaking out in random bursts of laughter, after conspiring with your built-in GPS to drive you off a cliff. And just as you’re about to reach fatal impact, it says, “Good Night, Clarice.”

It’s hard not to feel apprehensive about this particular advance, but no-one should be surprised by its development. This sort of AI-empowerment is pretty much inevitable in all that we do. It’s like pairing Alexa to a Roomba cleaning device, then having the Roomba suddenly roll towards you with a knife duct-taped to the top of it. Most of us don’t understand the technology. We certainly don’t understand what it’s capable of. Needless to say, I turned down my chance to go for a test-drive in the Chevy Alexa prototype.

But not before I got a really good pancake recipe out of her…


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