Volume 20, 2019
Alexa Does Not Care. Should You?
Media Literacy in the Age of Digital Voice Assistants
This article explores the ethical dimension of digital voice assistants from the angle of postphenomenology and the technological mediation approach, whereby technology plays a mediating role in the human-world relations. Digital voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo’s Alexa or Google’s Home, increasingly form an integral part of everyday life for many people. Powered by Artificial Intelligence and based on voice interaction, voice assistants promise constant accompaniment by answering any questions people might have and even managing the physical space of their homes. However, while accompanying daily lives of people, voice assistants also seamlessly redefine the way people talk, interact and perceive each other. In view of their intentionalities, such as interaction by voice, command-based model of communication and development of attachment, digital voice assistant mediate the norms of interaction beyond their immediate use, the way people perceive themselves, those around and form consequent normative expectations. The article argues that understanding how technologies, such as digital voice assistants, mediate our moral landscape forms an essential part of media literacy in the digital age.