Frak That! Ep. 93: ‘Artificial Stupidity’

Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox talk about digital assistant/artificial intelligence mayhem during Episode 93. They begin with a Twitch stream featuring two Google Home devices asking each other stupid questions—and answering them. Randall laughs: “It’s like two Millennials fighting over the friggin’ remote”, referring to the incoherent but continuous banter between the devices.

That leads into a disturbing discussion about the Amazon Alexa digital assistant. A few days earlier, there was a news story about a six year-old accidentally ordering a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies from Amazon when asking Alexa about them. But the saga doesn’t end there. “The news cast playing on the TV in other peoples’ homes who also had the Alexa—the Alexa heard the same language…and their Alexas start trying to order the dollhouse”, Randall explains. “It’s like this chain reaction”. 

“Imagine this starts becoming an epidemic”, he continues, when Alexa “can’t distinguish between the TV in the background” and your voice. “You’ve got Viagra arriving at your door or, you’re a single guy, boxes of Victoria’s Secret showing up. Suddenly you’ve got a $2,000 credit card bill and a whole bunch of junk piling up from Amazon”.

Joe has a Frak That! epiphany and sees the brilliance of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whom he calls an “evil genius”, because of some new TVs announced during Consumer Electronics Show 2017. “She’s built into the tellie”, he says. “Don’t leave it unmonitored, because who knows what will arrive at the door the next day”.

The discussion ends when Joe’s wife runs up and hands him note: “You keep setting off Alexa”. Uh-oh. If anything strange shows up from Amazon, he’ll report in a future episode.

Other topics include: Smart cars and their road rage; Apple CEO Tim Cook’s pay cut; the problem with Millennials; driving on the wrong side of the road; Barack Obama’s wall; and stupid criminals, among juicy bits.