Another woman moved in with us this past Christmas, and my wife is OK with it.
But she does help us with the grocery list. She also tells jokes, gives us the weather forecast and plays almost any song under the sun. Instantly.
Her name is Alexa, and she lives inside an Amazon Echo speaker. And, unlike most women, she only speaks when spoken to. Just ask her to set alarms and timers, check traffic, your calendar, to-do or shopping lists and more. And she just keeps getting smarter. She stays current automatically through the “cloud,” continually learning new functionality and skills.
I’ve been accused of having my head in the clouds, too. But my clouds are real. You know, the kind that produce rain and snow. Alexa’s cloud is somewhere out there in cyberspace. It never rains on her parade. (“Beam me up, Scottie.”) This artificial intelligence is beyond my comprehension. Alexa can spit out in seconds what used to take hours to dig out from encyclopedias.
If you remember encyclopedias, you probably remember typewriters, TV sets with tubes, Ipana toothpaste, Halo shampoo, Speedy Alka Seltzer, Slinky, Chinese Checkers, Dick Nixon, Dick and Jane, Peter Lawford and Peter Rabbit.
I didn’t become “high-tech” until the early ’90s when I bought my first computer. It was a Mac Plus. And it cost over $2,000 — used! Now that I’ve come up to an iPad, Mac G-4, Amazon Echo and an iPhone 6, I can say, “You’ve come a long way baby, to get where you got to today.”(Virginia Slims jingle, 1968). That was a long time ago.
But I bet Alexa remembers what was going on back then. So I think I’ll ask her. Me: “Alexa, who was vice president of the United States in 1968?” Alexa: “In 1968 the U.S. vice president was Hubert Humphrey.”
OK. Let’s lighten it up a bit. Me: “Alexa, tell me a joke. Alexa: “What does a skeleton eat at a restaurant? Spare ribs.” Me: “Alexa, tell me another joke” Alexa: “Two thieves stole a calendar. They both got six months.”
Oh well, now I’m not the only person in the Reid household who tells corny jokes!
— Raymond Reid
Raymond Reid is a national award-winning humor columnist from Kernersville, North Carolina. He can be contacted at email@example.com.