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My husband and I stopped using voice assistants. We learned to communicate better and have more privacy.

Couple posing for a photo in NYC
Courtesy of the author
  • We constantly asked our Alexa questions, like what the weather was going to bed.

  • When we moved from New York City to London, my husband and I made the decision to leave it behind.

  • We communicate better now and our conversations are 100% private.

The towering stacks of cardboard boxes in our empty New York apartment were all taped up and labeled, ready for the movers to ship off to our new London flat. Scribbled on them were the contents "kitchen" with our pots and pans, "clothes'" carrying rainboots and trench coats, and many books and magazines. But there was one other thing we were looking to leave behind: all of our virtual assistant devices.

Our one-bedroom apartment in Midtown was accustomed to the tones of Alexa and helpful answers from Google that often ran our Stateside household. Whether it was asking an innocuous query about the weather or trying to resolve an argument about which actor was in a certain Netflix show, the virtual assistant always came to the rescue.

Yet, this time, my husband and I made a conscious effort not to allow any artificial intelligence to cross the pond with us.

At first, it felt like a family member was missing

Initially, it felt like a family member was missing. Because we were so used to these virtual assistants, at first, it felt like a family member was missing; after all, we lost our personal assistants who were always at our beck and call.

I missed asking Alexa to set pasta timers or add things to my shopping list. My husband was accustomed to asking Alexa about updates on Arsenal games and the latest Premier League statistics. The house felt quieter, but our relationship felt richer.

We increased communication with each other

Slowly, the transition without voice assistants became easier. Rather than having Alexa settle a detail after a thoughtful dinnertime debate or even have full-blown conversations thanks to newer features, we actually spent time researching ourselves to foster deeper discussion.

We found ourselves expressing greater interest in each other's opinions, much like the inquisitive early days of our courtship before smartphones overwhelmed everything. A friendly sense of competition even emerged as we vied to answer obscure trivia or recall little details instead of automatically deferring the mental effort to Alexa.

The back-and-forth exchanges sharpened our minds while bringing us closer.

We stopped being lazy with basic tasks

The loss of voice assistants has also been better for our health. With so many of our devices previously connected to our voice assistants, we would bark commands across the room.

Without Alexa conveniently turning lights or the TV on and off, we are more active moving through our home ourselves and revert back to manual movements instead of saying, "Alexa, change the channel."

All this additional movement during the day has us feeling less lethargic in front of screens because we had previously allowed our bodies and minds to grow lazier in the name of comfort and ease. It's good to be self-sufficient even with the simplest of tasks.

We had more privacy

An unexpected benefit was realizing how much privacy we regained without using devices that were likely always listening.

At least now, we can live with the comfort of knowing that our private conversations can truly stay between us. The same goes for our professional lives too; since we both work from home a few days a week, it doesn't sit well with us to have devices with an always-on microphone that could capture our sensitive work-related conversations. This way, there's no risk whatsoever for any potential vulnerabilities.

As my husband and I start thinking about family planning, we recognize that AI assistants can be a fun and even useful piece of tech when raising young children. However, we want to raise our children to develop their own empathy, critical thinking, and social skills without outsourcing aspects of their development to AI.

Read the original article on Business Insider