Leave it to our grandmothers to find the flaws in today’s technology. While we may think that Alexa can do almost everything, it didn’t take long at all for a 98-year-young grandma named Teofila Pegollo (known as Lola Openg by her family and friends) to discover a function that Alexa is decidedly missing — the ability to scratch our backs. In a video that has since gone viral (and that underscores the shortcomings of our virtual assistants), Pegollo asks Alexa, or as she calls her, “Alaska,” to address an itch. Alas, Alexa was not able to comply.
In the video, you can hear Pegollo saying, “Alaska, Scratch my back!” in her native language of Tagalog (her family members can be heard in the background telling her that she must speak English for Alexa to understand). When Alexa fails to comply with this simple request, Pegollo responds with, “Lazy.”
Later on in the video, the grandmother does indeed repeat her command in English, but Alexa does not understand (mostly because she thinks that Pegollo is saying “Alaska”). It’s a problem many of us can relate to — after all, while we’re not all trying to get Alexa to do a physical task, it’s quite often that the A.I. assistant misunderstands a request, and responds with something totally off base (at one point, she tells Pegollo about the weather in San Diego).
Jonathan Gonzalez, one of Pegollo’s children, posted the video to Facebook, where it has garnered nearly 3.5 million views thus far. Of course, this means little to his grandmother, who does not know what a Facebook “like” or “view” is. That said, Gonzalez told Yahoo that his dear Lola Openg is quite thrilled to have made so many people smile.
“I asked her how she felt spread joy and laughter among thousands. She said she’s very happy,” he said. “She has such a strong personality and she’s genuine in everything she does. She lives a carefree life and I believe that’s what keeps her going at this age.”
Gonzalez further noted that while Pegollo didn’t manage to get Alexa to work with her, she’s always up for a new challenge. “Most people her age would rather stay home. Lola Openg, is down for anything — trips, adventures, going out,” he said.
If only we could say the same about Alexa.
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