BY MICHAEL QUIRK
When your boss gives you a project to work on, sometimes it can hard to tell how she or he feels about your performance. Managers at times operate under a guise of ambiguity where it is truly hard to know where one stands. Such is not the case with Jeff Bezos, apparently, as he once told an early edition of Alexa to “shoot yourself in the head,” a comment heard by the engineers on the back end of the innovation.
In his new book Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire, Brad Stone wrote that Bezos had a prototype of Alexa in his house prior to its 2004 release to the public. The billionaire got so frustrated with its lack of comprehension that he unleashed upon the device. Engineers on the backend reviewed the interactions between Bezos and Alexa and undoubtedly could not feel confident about its viability moving forward.
I find it pretty unbelievable that Bezos would allow the device in his home, letting it record his interactions. That’s providing a lot of ammunition for the employees below him by way of dirt. It’s like a bizarro world of Undercover Boss where instead of the CEO getting intel on their employees, it is the other way around. If I was one of those engineers, I would utilize every opportunity to flip that information into brown-nosing. Oh hey, Jeff, a little
Alexa, I mean, birdie told me you are a big fan of snickerdoodle cookies, so I went ahead and baked you some. Oh Jeff, I’ve been meaning to ask you, did you watch Friday’s new episode of Blue Bloods on CBS? That’s my favorite show, too, I mean, it’s my favorite show.
I don’t know if Bezos was thinking about how these recordings would go to the engineers or if it was just a bit of frustration. If he knew it was, that could not be a good thing to hear. So Bob, how does the boss seem to be liking our new invention? Well…he told it to go shoot itself in a head it doesn’t have, or he was saying for us to shoot ourselves in the heads we do have, I’m not sure, but either way it’s not great.
It shows just how little time we have for technology these days, and how spoiled we’ve become. Twenty years ago, when you went to the mall with your family, you told everyone to meet at the water feature by the food court at a specific time. You couldn’t talk on the phone and go online, simultaneously. If someone had a big circular dish on their roof, that meant they were balling out of control. Now, if you have a robot in your house that has all the information known to man at its disposal, and it makes a mistake, you just do not have time for any of that bullshit.
I can relate. I frequently find myself giving my Google Home the business. Just the other day, I was listening to Jimmy Buffett Pandora because I like to get down like that, and my wife asked me a question. I couldn’t hear her over the sweet sounds of Come Monday so I said, “hey Google, turn off music.” No dice. Buffett just kept rolling along with the tunes. So I tried again, but more terse, “hey Google, I SAID turn off music.” Nothing again, just more island melody. Finally I just hit it with an, “oh my God Google, turn off Jimmy Buffett radio or you’re going through the window.” Finally, no more Buffett.
Progress truly is a beautiful thing.