Amazon’s Alexa, a virtual assistant using artificial intelligence (AI), is at the center of many conversations. For some, it’s the source of convenience in their daily routine. For others, it’s fear-mongering over the anxiety of constant surveillance and wide opportunity for hacking. For those that share the name of Alexa themselves… it’s complicated their lives. This is what spurred one mom, identified as Lauren, to write a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying the advent of the Amazon Alexa has led to her daughter being bullied and ridiculed by peers. She’s just one of many who feel the name Alexa was ruined by Amazon.
“Mr. Bezos, I write to you as a father and human being rather than the CEO of Amazon,” Lauren wrote. “We are not asking for wealth or recognition from this request. We just want to correct an error we believe was a giant mistake.”
Amazon’s Alexa AI is usually associated with the company’s devices, from speakers to tablets. Users can command the AI to navigate tasks, play music, create to-do lists, set alarms, and provide the information they ask for. To use the tech, one usually activates it with the name followed by the command. For example, one would say “Alexa, play ‘Baby Shark'” or “Alexa, what’s the weather like today?”
Why People Believe the Name “Alexa” Has Been Ruined By Amazon
The AI’s compliance has created the foundation for memes — usually involve a made-up Alexa command — across the internet. When one user takes to Twitter to complain about their day or something mundane, another might reply with a joke along the lines of, “Alexa, play Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River.'” The bot has created plenty of material for one-liners, both online and in real-life.
Enter Lauren, who has witnessed her six-year-old daughter being bullied in and out of school. Children have used Alexa’s name to order her around, commanding her to complete tasks and laughing at her — essentially treating her “like a servant.”
An apology from a member of technical support on behalf of Bezos is the only response from Amazon. As a mother, Lauren is looking to influence companies like Amazon to stop using female names to name their products, such as Apple’s “Siri.”
On a Reddit thread posted a year ago, one user asked: “Has Amazon ruined the name Alexa?” Other users named Alexa took to the comments to discuss their troubles. One said she couldn’t go a week without hearing a jab linking her to AI.
Another user replied in the thread, pointing out there are plenty of other great things to associate with Alexa, like music. “Just wanted to mention that my first association with the name remains Billy Joel’s ‘The Downeaster Alexa,’ which is a gorgeous song!”