Alexa, What Should We Do?

Sophia Brueckner, University of Michigan; William A Calvo-Quirós, University of Michigan; John Granzow, University of Michigan; Cathlyn Newell, University of Michigan; Tsz Lam Ngai. University of Michigan; Christian Sandvig, University of Michigan

Toronto 2021: Performance

COVID-19 health protocols have propelled us into video conversations, providing unusual glimpses into private spaces. This project is a live artistic performance via Zoom where participants are connected with modified Amazon Alexas to create an audio/visual experience. Participants will be prompted to say, “Alexa, what should we do?” This presents Alexas as human participants in a Zoom meeting. Alexa speaks both as a device reciting someone else’s words and also as a device with agency. In this performance we ask: What technological relations are produced by the pandemic? What are the implications of computing’s unprecedented access to private life? What is the sound of technological authority? Can language, accent, and gender foreground algorithms as gendered, raced, and cultured? The presenters will record the room for documentation of the project.

Keywords: ethics of care, global/transnational perspectives, public health, internet of things, human-computer interaction

Published: 01/30/2023