Posts tagged " Amazon "

Time for Mass Resignations at Amazon?

February 28th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 17 comments

There is a concept in Jewish thought that God judges us in the manner in which we judge others. If we overlook a friend who slights us, God will similarly overlook our slighting of Him. If we judge someone else’s actions in the most favorable light, God will  judge our actions in the most favorable light. If we go out of our way to help another person, God will likewise provide extra help for us. 

It would be lovely if our society adopted this idea. Anyone who insisted during the Justice Kavanaugh’s show trial that, “We must believe all women,” should be held to that standard even if they or someone they revere is accused. Meanwhile, in a similar situation, those of us who argued for upholding the rule of law and evidence would be given a fair hearing.

On this basis, those who claim that any whiff of sexism condemns a person to the dungeons should now fall on their own swords. I am talking about Jeff Bezos and anyone, male or female, in a position of responsibility at Amazon. I realize that Mr. Bezos is having a rough time because of  personal indiscretions as well as a change of business plans in New York. I don’t mean to pile on, but neither do I want to avert my eyes from egregious sexism at his company.

Where do I find this? Alexa. Having spent a few days in an Alexa dominated home, I watched how the machine is configured in a way that demeans women. I’m not talking about Alexa transcripts uncovered from thirty years ago (since the program didn’t exist then), but how, in 2019, Alexa is laying a misanthropic vision for the future.

Why is Alexa, or Siri for that matter, presented as female? This electronic wonder responds to commands issued to it. There is a most evident imbalance of power between the speaker and the machine. And the voice responding to instruction is female. Is a male voice too hard to simulate? Do we really think that the machine’s creators would have crafted a recognizably Mexican-accented voice, for example?

Could the brilliant coders not have devised a way for the machine to insist on the words “please” and “thank you” before fulfilling a request? If my grandson said, “Alexa, turn on the light,” couldn’t she have said, “What’s the magic word?” What if every other time he wanted something he first had to say, “Alexa, is there something I can do for you?” As it stands, my three-year-old grandson, representative of the next generation of boys, is learning to bark orders at women, to expect females to respond instantly to his every whim and never to consider a woman’s perspective.

While a bunch of white-garbed women made a ridiculous spectacle of themselves prancing arrogantly around at the State of the Union speech, surely the feminist standards they purport to uphold would be better served by destroying Amazon for this transgression? Keeping them out of New York City is small potatoes compared to completely eviscerating the company. As a side-benefit, this would bring many aspiring Socialists one step closer to their fantasies. Naturally, most Americans would be worse off and the economy might tank. But, hey, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. 

P.S. Lest anyone not catch the satire of the above writing, I do feel the need to add a conclusion. I think that Alexa actually represents one example of a  relatively serious problem in terms of our culture’s encouraging rudeness, self-centeredness and instant gratification. However, changing the voice to a male one would be equally problematic. All people should be treated with respect and suggesting that there are ‘loser’ groups who should be treated badly, whether they are women of color or white men, is a formula for failure.

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Did you catch my husband and my TV interview with Judy Gruen, author of The Skeptic and the Rabbi? 3 guesses who the rabbi is!

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