Amazon gets Harrison Ford to reveal the grim future of Alexa

By Chris Matyszczyk for Technically Incorrect | January 30, 2019 -- 18:39 GMT (10:39 PST) | Topic: Amazon

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(Image: Screenshot by ZDNet)

I don't know whether the Los Angeles Rams can strike a blow for human justice and defeat the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl.

Also: Patriots vs Rams: How to stream Super Bowl 2019

I feel more certain, however, that Amazon's Super Bowl ad will be among the more popular in the gloriously meaningless polls that will emerge on Monday morning.

The ad enjoys a lovely psychology.

It purports to reveal all the uses of Alexa that Amazon has already tried and found wanting.

The star is Harrison Ford. Or, rather, his dog. This little pooch has become rather adept at hailing Alexa solo to order its own food. You see, it has an experimental Alexa-powered dog collar.

Which doesn't please Ford at all. As if anything ever does.

The ad also features actor and director Forest Whitaker, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson from "Broad City" and even astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.

They, too, were guinea pigs for Alexa-powered products whose power was a touch wayward.

It's very well executed and will charm millions in a way that Bill Belichick never can.

Underneath it all, though, is a pleasantly sinister message: "Please don't worry about Alexa. She's your friend. She's not going to spy on you. Well, not unless you really want her to. She's only there to make your life better. Honest."

Amazon has, in recent times, been involved in a couple of Alexa-powered scrapes. 

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The most pungent was only last month, when Alexa sent 1,700 recordings of private conversations to the wrong person.

Why not, then, give Harrison Ford and some other less famous people piles of money to reassure you that there is at least some quality control at Amazon?

Some people have become increasingly concerned that the reach of voice assistants will not only be infinite, but will creep into not serving customers, but directing them.

But now that the star of the cheery, uplifting Blade Runner has taken Amazon's shilling, you know everything will be fine.

By the way, did you hear the music at the end of the ad? It's Queen's Don't Stop Me Now.

Well, quite.

Previous and related coverage:

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The second-generation Alexa Voice Remote is worth every penny.

The hell of a future where Alexa's algorithms outperform humans

A new short film explores what it'll really be like when a machine tells you what to do and how to live. It's ugly.

The one Alexa feature that makes it worth letting her spy on us all she wants (according to my wife)

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