Downtime

Sep 26 2019   12:00PM GMT

Alexa takes the L

Ryan Priest Ryan Priest Profile: Ryan Priest

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Amazon has revealed it will soon be introducing an option for users to change its Alexa virtual assistant’s voice to that of self-appointed Kangol ambassador Samuel L Jackson.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of a Channel 4 report that claims parents are now using Alexa to read their children bedtime stories, conjuring thoughts of a near future of toddlers being told the tale of The very hungry caterpillar with the menacing panache of Jackson’s Ezekiel 25:17 recital from Pulp Fiction.   

It’s hard to say if this might yield any visible consequences. For years, CBeebies’ Bedtime Stories has showcased all manner of celebrities, ranging from Olly Murs to Fiz from Corrie. So far, this hasn’t resulted in any reports of children tweeting about imaginary terror attacks from the back office of Selfridges or unfairly berating Tyrone, but maybe some early years exposure to Samuel L Jackson’s no-nonsense attitude will do our young some good.

If we’re going to insist on using these devices to raise our children, an edgy upgrade on the default voice of Alexa will be crucial. They’re arriving into a world of right-wing panto villains, baying for their blood for so much as mentioning climate change. If all they can channel in response is the twee energy of Alexa singing English country garden, they’re going to get eaten alive.

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