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Are Siri, Alexa Making Us Less Polite To Fellow Humans?

17 August 2019


San Francisco: Contrary to popular perception, talking to digital assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have not yet not made users ruder to other people, says a study.

"Worried parents and news outlets alike have fretted about how the personification of digital assistants affects our politeness, yet we have found little reason to worry about adults becoming ruder as a result of ordering around Siri or Alexa," said James Gaskin, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Brigham Young University in the US. 

"In other words, there is no need for adults to say 'please' and 'thank you' when using a digital assistant," Gaskin said. 

For the study, the researchers asked 274 people if the way they talk to digital assistants is making them less polite. 

After surveying and observing those people, they found that artificially-intelligent digital assistants are not making adult humans ruder to other people. 

According to their assessment, digital assistants in their current form are not personified enough by adult users to affect human-to-human interactions.

But that may not be the case with children. 

Parental concerns have already prompted both Google and Amazon to make adjustments to their digital assistants, with both now offering features that thank and compliment children when they make requests politely.

In this study, scheduled to be presented at the Americas Conference on Information Systems being held in Cancun, Mexico, the researchers did not study children, but assessed young adults, who generally have already formed their behavioural habits. 

The researchers believe that if they repeated the study with kids, they would find different results.