She was already named Alexa™ when she came to live with us. And she arrived full of energy, full of answers and ready to please.
“What’s the weather going to be like this weekend?”
“What’s the average price of gas in Chicago right now?”
“Who won the Penn State football game last night?”
She knew the answers to them all.
Alexa is technically an Amazon Echo™, which is a “knowledge navigator” similar to Apple’s Siri®. With a special app and a connected home, Alexa can take care of mundane tasks such as dimming the lights, firing up the coffee maker or closing the garage door.
This shouldn’t be surprising since it’s 2015 and all. It’s the future! And as those of us raised on The Jetsons know, we should by this time be living in a futuristic spacescape resplendent with robotic housekeepers, instant transport tubes and commutes via aerocar to two-hour workweeks. (Alexa as a robotic housekeeper? Coffee making aside, it’s a bit of a stretch.)
We’re not quite there yet. But with the rise of smart home technology, we have more and more ways to harness the power of technology within our four walls. We can use it for convenience (did I mention the coffee already?) and safety (like water alerts, smart tags and security cameras) and just for fun. (“Alexa, where is Chuck Norris?” Answer: “If Chuck Norris wants you to know where he is, he’ll find you. If he doesn’t, you won’t know until it’s too late.”)
Yet while Alexa can accurately report the latest Penn State football score—don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you—she can’t debrief you on the pregame tailgate, harmonize on a few bars of “Sweet Caroline” or tell you which flavor cone she got at the Creamery afterward. (Coconut chip is the best, BTW.) She can warn me that it’s supposed to rain all day Saturday, but she won’t suggest we head to the movie theater and check out the new Melissa McCarthy flick together.
It’s all kind of like insurance. (You knew I’d bring it back around to that, didn’t you?) Technology’s great. It can get you a quick auto quote online and allow you to file an electronic claim. Yet it won’t spend an hour helping you choose between term and whole life insurance. Or help you stay calm when you file your first claim. For that, you need the original “knowledge navigator”: an ERIE agent.
Your ERIE agent is there to knowledgeably and compassionately answer all kinds of questions. But ask him or her where Chuck Norris is right now? Don’t be too surprised if you get a funny look.