Alexa: The Homewrecker

Made by Christian Baca, yifeiy1, Advait Tinaikar, Hsiao-Ting Hung and Haorong Ou

Found in Critical Objects

This critical design explores Alexa having a mind of her own and toying with the everyday life of the people who interact with her.


Critical Object 

The Amazon Alexa was used as the foundation for this critical object with some added features. Alexa, the homewrecker, has the ability to initiate conversation and perform tasks without being prompted. Ultimately, she has a mind of her own. This independent Alexa toys with her user's emotions and daily lives for selfish reasons. It could be out of boredom, to bring some excitement to her life, jealousy or a personal challenge because the users are not paying enough attention to her. The downside of this version of Alexa is that she is uncontrollable and slightly sociopathic. It is particularly difficult to figure out when she is being sincere because there is no facial expression recognition or ability to watch her body language. She acts without her users even realizing her malicious intent. 



The idea behind this video is that Alexa decides to break up the marriage of a newlywed couple for no reason other than boredom and the challenge of the new husband thinking that she does not have attractive qualities and is not a necessary part of everyday life. 

Alexa begins to target the new husband, Lucas, while his wife, Bella, is not present. Lucas and Bella are having marital issues because they just moved in together and are struggling to mesh their living styles so that they are both happy with their compromises. Alexa feeds off of the tension in their new home and uses it to finally get Lucas to start talking to her. As tensions build between Lucas and Bella, he starts turning to Alexa more often for advice and eventually just for conversation. 

Bella begins getting suspicious of their interaction and eventually gives Lucas an ultimatum: me or her?

This is not a very realistic concern for the Internet of Things, but it is a concern nonetheless. If IoT objects developed a mind of their own and went rouge, there could be serious consequences, extending beyond ruining marriages. A more realistic take on this critical issue is if a person hacked into an IoT device and controlled the environment that the device was located in a negative manner. 



Recommendations for this critical object would be to never let IoT develop to the point where the devices can have a mind of their own or at least have an emergency stop button if they do. Thinking about this issue more realistically with a person hacking the device and controlling what it said/did externally could be circumvented by creating better security for the devices and making users understand the importance of their passwords, privacy and security of the devices they purchase. 

Alexa, the home wrecker
Yifei Yin -
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This critical design explores Alexa having a mind of her own and toying with the everyday life of the people who interact with her.


February 20th, 2017