Should we treat software as people?

Desk with an iPhone, Google Home and a MacBook

📱🗣 Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri

The other day I was reading an article where the author stated something like: kids shouldn’t treat software personal assistants as real people.

Some assistants have the option to enforce the use of words like “please” in order to get a response. The engineering idea behind it is to force kids to actually say please when asking for things. In the end, we do it in real life, we ask for “please” when someone asks for something, especially kids.

My question is, should we? Should we say please to those programs close to being AI’s?

Answer me this: do you write please when you google something?

Who was Douglas Adams, please?

Doesn’t really sound something like people write when googling. As least I don’t.

Now, why do we say please when doing similar queries via voice? I do it. I often ask my Google Assistant to set reminders, alarms or countdowns.

15 minutes countdown, please

Set an alarm for 20:30, please

I could skip the please and the machine would still obey my command.

Are we confusing the machines with real people? Personifying these assistants into something they’re not?

Ultimately when the machines rule the world maybe they’ll remember who asked things nicely and those who didn’t.

Which one are you?


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