Since the Amazon Echo’s launch in 2014, the platform’s engineers have found that many users have been talking to its social interface, Alexa, as if it were a person.
The percentage of “nonutilitarian” user interactions with the device’s voice interface are “well into the double digits”, according to Daren Gill, Alexa’s director of product management. In response to these findings, Amazon has been infusing Alexa with more “personality” by giving her a natural-sounding voice and a sense of humor.
The point of a truly social interface is that it is the same as no interface at all, says The Wall Street Journal’s Christopher Mims. No screens, no pointing devices, no unfamiliar conventions. Conversation, with all its quirks and “inessential” chitchat, is simply how humans interact with each other. Soon, it will be how we interact with machines as well.