Amazon’s Alexa devices are fascinating pieces of technology, not because they do anything particularly exciting and life-changing, but because they do the “voice-activated assistant” thing so poorly that they feel like a nice reassurance that Black Mirror is just a TV show and not an actual glimpse into our scary future. Anyone who has spent a fair amount of time with one has had a situation where you ask it an extremely simple question and get a convoluted, irrelevant response, and that may have prompted you to tell the Alexa device that it fucking sucks, or that Jeff Bezos is a union-busting punk, or that you could’ve easily answered the question yourself but you were just trying to justify the money you’ve spent on the stupid hockey puck sucking up your wi-fi signal and listening in on all of your personal conversations.
Now, finally, Amazon is preparing to launch an Alexa update that can theoretically dish out insults as well as it can take them, and it’s all thanks to the platform’s very first celebrity voice option. As reported by The Guardian, Amazon will offer a premium Samuel L. Jackson voice for Alexa devices later this year (meaning you’ll have to pay for it), and unlike previous celebrity voices that used pre-recorded audio (i.e., Jimmy Fallon’s appearances when you ask Alexa to tell a joke), this one will be developed with Amazon’s “neural text-to-speech technology” to create an “AI version” of Samual L. Jackson. Plus, as a nod to Jackson’s reputation for saying bad words in his movies, the Alexa voice will “make liberal use” of swears—though it will be an option that users can turn off.
Just to reiterate: Alexa devices are kind of shitty, and this is not a glimpse into our scary Black Mirror future, despite the fact that Amazon is creating a Samuel L. Jackson AI for the sole purpose of setting reminders and telling you the weather. This AI definitely won’t go rogue and try to build itself a robot body like Ultron, setting off a wave of destruction and terror that can only be stopped by one human man… the real Samuel L. Jackson. That will not happen, no matter how awesome it sounds.