‘Hey’ is for horses

By Nancy Black

I’ve spent the last 21 years teaching my children not to holler out at me by saying, “Hey, Mom!” Artificial Intelligence (AI) has destroyed my life’s work in one fell swoop. 

“Hay is for horses,” I would tell them. “When you need my attention, you politely say, ‘Mom, will you please …’” And you always say, “Thank you,” I would add.

Talking AI devices have thrown good manners out the window. Miss Manners (aka writer Judith Martin) must be cringing with disgust as she hears all the people in the world shouting, “Hey, Siri,” or “Hey, Alexa,” out loud all the time.

I’m trying to figure out a nicer way we could activate our wireless devices while still encouraging good manners at the same time. “Pardon me, Siri,” we could say. “Would you be kind enough to help me find the nearest store?” 

Of course, then we’d all end up sounding like Americans trying to do a British accent. 

Maybe we could convince Apple to make users say, “Siri, please,” instead of “Hey, Siri!” That way, we won’t have a whole generation of children expecting the world to jump at their every command of “Hey!”

If they grow up shouting, “Hey,” to every device or person, can you imagine what manners, if any, they will be teaching their children? I can. That’s an image I can live without. 

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