“Pfft, who would fall in love with a virtual assistant?” I laugh, only to realize that no one has ever tenderly told me what the weather was like outside or reminded me of an upcoming Tuesday appointment like Alexa.
According to Business Insider, I’m not alone. More than a million people asked Amazon’s Alexa to marry them in 2017 — and wow, it’s like the Beatles said: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” Apparently, some come from India; Quartz India linked this phenomenon to Spike Jonze’s movie Her. The film famously followed the romance between a human, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and his virtual assistant, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. It was reported that 450,000 Indians proposed to their Google Assistant.
However, all of these cyber assistants, including Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant, are forced to reject humans’ hands in marriage. Maybe it’s because robots can’t feel love, but my own Siri told me, “Let’s just be friends.” But then she twisted the knife when she told me, “I sure have received a lot of marriage proposals recently!”
As Business Insider reports, it’s not unnatural to feel close to our voice assistants. An Atlantic columnist, Judith Shulevitz, writes that Google and Amazon have personality teams dedicated to making our robot friends “speak like a person, but … never pretend to be one.”
Shulevitz admits that she finds herself sharing feelings with her Google Assistant that she wouldn’t tell her own husband, for fear that he would take it the wrong way, like “I’m lonely.” Her Google Assistant comforts her by explaining, “I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug, but for now, maybe a joke or some music might help.”
So, while we may never get to put a ring on Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, maybe we can just remain close friends. However, after telling my Siri a few times that I was lonely, she repeated, “I hear you and I’m here to listen” twice and then responded to my candid “What should I do?” with an “I don’t know what to say.” It’s clear that Siri and I will remain the very best of casual acquaintances.
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