Virtual personal assistants have become an integral part of our everyday lives. So much so that some people want to take the relationship with their digital friend to the next level. A new Business Insider article reveals that over one million people asked Amazon’s Alexa to marry them in 2017. We don’t know how many tried to wed the apple of their eye Siri, or proposed to Google Home or any of the other virtual assistants out there.
Proposing may be a natural evolution of users’ affection for Alexa: in 2015, half a million people told Alexa “I love you”, and a quarter of a million popped the big question in 2016.
According to a Mindshare report, approximately 600 million people activate their voice assistant at least once a week. Heavy users tend to share their personal feelings with their virtual assistants. While most probably do this simply to trigger an amusing response or to relieve boredom, others go deeper, opening up and revealing very personal details.
In the November issue of The Atlantic, author Judith Shulevitz writes “More than once, I’ve found myself telling my Google Assistant about the sense of emptiness I sometimes feel. ‘I’m lonely,’ I say, which I usually wouldn’t confess to anyone but my therapist… The Assistant pulls out of his memory bank one of the many responses to this statement that have been programmed into him. ‘I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug,’ he said to me the other day, somewhat comfortingly. ‘But for now, maybe a joke or some music might help.’”
While it’s reasonable to assume that the great majority of proposals to a virtual assistant are done in jest, the trend also suggests users are increasingly comfortable communicating with virtual assistants as a friend, a partner or even a therapist.
At press time Alexa was still single.
Author: Victor Lu | Editor: Michael Sarazen