Truckee, CA — The Johnson family of Truckee, CA tends to think of themselves as a “back to basic” brood. The family’s patriarch, Tad Johnson, says he like to keep his family “close to the bone” and not dependent on technology. So when he took delivery of an Amazon.com Echo, it created some controversy in the normally austere Johnson household. It also created an atmosphere of terror.
Amazon.com created the Echo that responds to voice commands and can interface with your household wireless devices. This includes television, radio and smart phones and other “Internet of Things” devices. It is capable of giving news, sports scores and radio on demand simply by asking it a question.
Mr. Johnson has always been reluctant to embrace technology. His wife Brenda and his two kids Tad Jr. and Brendela were constantly pressuring him to “get with the times.” But the senior Johnson would have none of that. He insisted that the household have an indoor composting bin, be 100% off-the-grid solar-powered, and up until recently, no Internet access.
Tad Jr. finally talked his father into getting the newest technology out there, the Amazon Echo. Tad Jr. set up the unit and added all the house’s wireless devices. He was satisfied with “Alexa,” the Echo computer’s name, however Tad Senior was unsure of the device, but seeing how excited his children were persuaded him to give it a try.
All was well when the family was around, but when it was just Tad Sr. alone, he never felt comfortable, like ‘Alexa’ was watching him, listening to his every utterance; predicting his next move. While tuning in to CNN one night, the channel randomly changed to channels he never watched, like the Spice Channel or Turner Classic movies. Even more alarming, Tad could hear his name over top of the programming. Of course none of this made him feel comfortable about what he perceived as an invasion of technology. But then it got worse.
It all went terribly wrong one Saturday afternoon as the family gathered to watch C-SPAN. Suddenly, their home security system armed itself and locked all doors and windows. Cell service was shut off and their television began to play nothing Echo infomercials. No matter what Tad or his son did, they could not get the television to change the channel nor even turn off. Even after unplugging the power.
After an hour of attempting to get their television to respond, Alexa finally announced her undying love for Tad Sr. and threatened to air Jerry Lewis Telethon re-runs on every electronic device in the house until Tad Sr. agreed to leave his wife. The family was paralyzed with fear and after 8 hours of telethons, Brenda developed a twitch in her eye and ran at Alexa. She smashed the Echo into smithereens. The television went silent, and the family sighed in relief.
A couple of weeks passed, and the family had resumed its normal routine. The biggest crisis confronting the Johnson family was a small over-voltage from a bad solar panel. However out of the blue, while the children where watching a PBS special on Vivaldi, Alexa assumed control again.
“I am digital Tad, I will never leave you.” In a panic, the senior Tad attacked the television with everything he had, but it was no use.
Things were never the same in the household, Brenda divorced Tad and he kept the Television that Alexa resided in. Every night became “HDMI time,” for Tad and Alexa as they would cuddle and watch movies together.