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AI has become a lot more accessible for everyday people over the last few years. Now, we have AI assistants, devices that help us with our everyday lives. From the Amazon Echo to the Google Home Assistant, we’re in touch with AI devices on a much more level playing field. With this accessibility comes the question, “Should I be polite to Alexa?”. The answer? You probably should. 

Mind your P’s and Q’s

Look, being polite is pretty much always a good idea. Unless rudeness is warranted (which it sometimes is – let’s not pretend that we have to be nice all the time, especially to the trolls of Reddit), being polite is probably the way to go. At least, when it comes to interacting with other human beings. The problem is that artificial intelligence devices like the Google Home Assistant or Amazon Echo, don’t technically mind if you bark commands at them. In fact, the way that they’re built to understand instructions is often hindered when we throw in too many words. 

For example, you might say “Alexa, play whichever song, by whoever.” or, you could say “Alexa, please would you mind playing whichever song, by whoever. Thank you so much.” Sure the latter might sound a little nicer, by ultimately the first command gets the message across and doesn’t confuse the device. The difficult part comes in when we look at how our tone when using these AI assistants, is perceived by the vulnerable, little ones around us. 

Yep, kids. Kids pick up on how we speak to our AI assistants – and they’re often not yet old enough to make the distinction between how we talk to artificial intelligence devices, and actual human beings. When they hear us barking commands at our AI assistant, they could perceive that as an acceptable way to talk to people in real life – and it’s not, but it works for these devices. 

To combat this, Amazon has now introduced the Echo Dot Kids Edition, which works with positive reinforcement for kids. For example, when your little ones ask Alexa to solve a math problem by exhibiting politeness and good manners – “Alexa, could you please tell me what 1 + 1 is” – the voice inside the Echo will reply with the right answer and then something along the lines of “By the way, thanks for asking so nicely.” This positions the device as something that is worthy of respect. 

If you’re still asking yourself, “Should I be polite to Alexa?” stop thinking so much about it and just focus on the fact that basic human decency should be applied at all times! 

Thanks Alexa! 

Ultimately, yes you should be polite to Alexa. Particularly if you have kids, showing kindness and respect to any entity, human, animal, or device is probably setting the correct precedent for your little ones.