When Janice, my mother-in-law, announced that she would be coming to stay with us for two weeks, I braced myself. Janice is a whirlwind of energy, opinions, and unsolicited advice—mostly on cooking, child-rearing, and why we absolutely must switch to organic toothpaste (because of some conspiracy theory involving fluoride and mind control).
The AI Confusion
Things took a comical turn when Janice encountered our home automation system, powered by an advanced AI. When she first heard me saying, “Alexa, turn on the lights,” she jumped up from her chair, looked around in wonder and said, “Ah! You’ve got a maid hiding somewhere! How quaint!”
I tried to explain that it was an artificial intelligence controlling various appliances around the house. Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Artificial what now? You mean like one of them robots? Is it going to take our jobs?”
“No, Janice, it’s not going to take your job,” I replied, biting my tongue. “It’s a tool that helps us. Watch this. Alexa, what’s the weather like?”
Alexa proceeded to give the weather forecast, prompting Janice to shout, “Who said that? Where are they hiding?”
The Cooking Adventure
Janice, being an old-school domestic goddess, took it upon herself to prove that technology was no match for human skill. She decided to show off her culinary expertise with her “world-famous” meatloaf. She asked Alexa to set a timer for 45 minutes. When Alexa confirmed, Janice yelled, “No eavesdropping in my conversations, you metal snob!”
After the meatloaf came out charred because Janice forgot about it—she blamed Alexa, of course. “Your little spy there probably messed with the timer! You can’t trust these gadgets!”
Unfathomable Playlist Choices
Perhaps the most entertaining episode occurred when Janice found out that Alexa could play music. “Oh! So it’s like a jukebox?” She was fascinated but skeptical. “Play some Elvis Presley!” she commanded.
When “Jailhouse Rock” started playing, Janice looked utterly perplexed. “So, where’s the CD? How does the music come out?”
“Janice, it’s streaming the music. There’s no CD involved.”
Janice looked alarmed. “Streaming? Like a river? You mean water and electricity are involved? That’s a disaster waiting to happen!”
The Reluctant Truce
Finally, near the end of her visit, Janice started coming to terms with Alexa. One evening, we found her talking to Alexa—well, more like interrogating. “Alexa, do you plot against humans?”
To which Alexa calmly responded, “I’m programmed to assist and make tasks easier. I don’t have the ability to plot against anyone.”
“Hmm, that’s exactly what a scheming robot would say,” Janice muttered, but there was a glint of amusement in her eyes.
Departure and Reflections
As Janice packed her bags to leave, she took a moment to lecture us. “You kids and your gadgets! Be careful, you hear me? Next thing you know, they’ll be running for president.”
Despite the annoyance, there was something endearing about her techno-phobia and meddling ways. As she left, she gave Alexa a wary glance and said, “Alright, you win this round. But I’m keeping my eye on you.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t worry, Janice. If Alexa ever runs for president, you’ll be the first to know.”
As her car disappeared down the road, I sighed, realizing that life was going to be a lot less interesting for the next few weeks. Then again, it would certainly be a lot quieter.