For Christmas this year, someone gave us one of those “Echo” units from Amazon. If you’re unfamiliar with the technology, an Echo unit is also known as ‘Alexa,’ a device with a speaker and small screen. It can sit on a counter top, a desk. I’d heard about Alexa, but I’d never seen one in action. There are all kinds of things you can ask or tell Alexa to do.The idea of having an Alexa in your home takes some getting used to. I wasn’t really sure how to work with Alexa, or take advantage of some of the things it (or is it ‘she’?) could do. So, after I plugged Alexa into a power source and turned the unit on, I visited the Alexa website to educate myself on how to make it work. What I discovered there was very enlightening.
The first thing I saw on that website was this quote: “Alexa makes your life easier, more meaningful, and more fun by letting your voice control your world. Alexa can help you get more out of the things you already love and discover new possibilities you’ve never imagined.” Wow. That’s quite a promise from a 4×6 inch screen and speaker. Who knew such a device could make my life ‘easier, more meaningful, and more fun’ just by letting my voice control my world. The more I read, the more amazed I was.
When I have a request for Alexa, I learned I first need to say what they call a wake word, which by default is, interestingly enough, “Alexa.” Only after she detects that wake word is Alexa listening to my requests. The website specifically said that Alexa is a part of my life only when I ask her to be. By default, Alexa begins listening after she detects that I’m actually addressing her.
The website said that Alexa could find my phone, if I asked her to. (The other day, no kidding, I lost my car keys. But Alexa couldn’t help me find them. In that instance, she failed the test of making my life more fun, but I digress.) As I investigated what Alexa could do, the website listed all kinds of questions I could ask Alexa, and I can expect her to give me an answer. Here are some actual questions, listed on the Alexa site as the kinds of things she’ll have an answer for:
Alexa, will it rain tomorrow? (They did not list a follow-up question, “Are you sure? How do you know for sure there will even be a tomorrow?) And, the website said I could ask Alexa, to answer the question, “How many people are on the earth?” (I kid you not; the website said she would answer that question if I asked her. But, it didn’t mention how current her statistics would be. I wondered how she kept track of babies born world wide in the last 30 seconds, so she could add those to her count?)
The website said I can review my voice history. In other words, I can replay histories of my actual audios, review what Alexa thought I said, and see Alexa’s response. I can even delete what I’ve said! All I have to do is say, “Alexa, delete what I just said.” Or even “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”
I know the website for Alexa says I can delete what I said, just by asking. But that’s not what the bible says. The bible says for me to guard my tongue, because I can’t delete. No matter what Alexa thinks, I can’t actually make my life easier, more meaningful, and more fun by letting my voice control my world.” I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that my voice does not control my world.
Ps. 24:1 says that the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and those who live in it. The technology behind Alexa is pretty impressive. But the limits to what she can do are staggering. She’s never caused one sunrise. She may be able to tell me what I said thirty seconds ago, but she can’t keep track of every word I’ve ever said, along with every word I will ever say … before I say it.
If the cry of my heart is to get more out of the things I already love and discover new possibilities for my life that I’ve never imagined? I won’t be asking Alexa those kinds of questions.
I’ll be asking Jesus.