Thursday, December 26, 2019

‘And what do you say?’

I’ve been thinking, why is it that all the various digital assistants we use these days don’t demand common courtesy?

Stay with me, here. Whenever you say, ‘Hey Siri’, or ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Alexa’, or which ever system you are using, you follow that up with a question or a command, no please or thank you. Why are users not compelled to be courteous? The programmers and code writers for these technologies have it within their power to make it so that users need to say please and thank you - or at least please.

I realised this a while ago when teaching some of my older clients how to use Google Home. Whenever they asked GH a question or gave it a command they ended their sentences with please. It sounded odd to me and I found myself telling them, ‘You don’t have to say “please”, you know.’

One lady, who will turn 100 next year, said to me that just because she was talking to a machine, she shouldn’t abandon the niceties her parents taught her.

If you have used Google assistant or Siri, you’ll know that if you say ‘Thanks’ or ‘Thank you’, the assistants will respond in kind. Google says among other things, ‘I aim to please.’ It’s silly, but that actually makes me smile every time, because being treated respectfully feels good.

There’s no such things as too much courtesy. 

I do wonder... you may well have seen this coming... that as we use technology more and more to access information, do everyday tasks, or to entertain us, are we training ourselves out of being courteous?

Are our children (there it is, you knew it was coming), being passively taught that please and thank you are not necessary or valuable? Alexa, Google, and Siri are not going to prompt, ‘and what do you say?’ when our kids as for something and aren’t polite about it. Surely, this is something that would be easy to fix?

Also, one of the ladies in my class pointed out, ‘Hay (hey) is for horses and cows!’

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