An Amazon Echo Can’t Call the Police—But Maybe It Should

DESPITE WHAT YOU may have heard, an Amazon Echo did not call the police last week, when it heard a husband threatening his wife with a gun in New Mexico.

News reports took Bernalillo County authorities’ version of those events credulously, heralding the home assistant as a hero. The alleged act also raised an important question: Do you really want to live in a world where Alexa listens to your conversations, and calls the cops if she thinks things are getting out of hand?

The good news is that you don’t live in that world. Amazon’s Alexa can’t, and did not, call 911. Google Home can’t do it either. No voice-assistant device on the market can. That doesn’t invalidate the core question though, especially as Amazon Echo and Google Home increasingly gain abilities and become more integral.

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Mike Rawson

Mike Rawson has recently re-awoken a long-standing interest in robots and our automated future. He lives in London with a single android - a temperamental vacuum cleaner - but is looking forward to getting more cyborgs soon.

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An Amazon Echo Can’t Call the Police—But Maybe It Should

by Mike Rawson time to read: 1 min
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