Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The future will, of course, be a little odd.

Aliens who visit us from the Planet Plim may not be able to distinguish between humans and machines.

Currently, we're in that peculiar halfway house where we know that automation of the world has begun and we're not sure we like it.

Amazon, though, wants to reassure us. It's only got our best interests at heart. 

As long as we keep buying everything via Amazon, of course.

As if to show its penchant for compromise, Jeff Bezos's company has just secured a patent.

Now, depending on how far you are along the Robots Are Our Friends spectrum, you'll either find it glorious or grotesque.

The idea, you see, is for your delightful Alexa on your very ugly Amazon Echo to know you so well that she knows when you're sick.

The Telegraph reports that Alexa will listen out for changes in your speech and interpret other signs of illness or, um, emotion.

So as you're asking Alexa to order you an episode of Doctor Who, Alexa will mutter: "Chris, you're sounding a little peaky. I think I'll order you some NyQuil."

At least, that's in my imagination.

The Telegraph claims that Alexa might be a touch more subtle. She'll just start playing you ads for cough medicine. 

I fear this whole idea may actually make some people ill. 

The mere idea that a machine will turn into Doctor Knowitall sounds a little, well, deranged. 

Yet the Apple Watch has surely paved the painful way toward machines warning us that our bodies -- and, perhaps soon, our minds -- are on the blink.

Why shouldn't your book salesperson be your doctor too? We all admire multitasking, don't we?

Oh, but the patent has more disturbing kinks.

Another aspect of it is that Alexa would detect your mood and suggest things to do. 

Or it would hear you weeping and declare you were experiencing an "emotional abnormality."

In which case it would surely recommend you watch a horror movie. 

I contacted Amazon to ask whether this was its vision for a glorious future.

I hoped that Alexa would get back to me and tell me that my mood isn't appropriate to be asking such a question. Or something.

Instead, the company declined to comment.

Naturally the palliative is to say that companies file patents all the time. This doesn't mean that they will implement them.

Indeed, Amazon filed a patent that showed its workers being put in cages, before deciding it wasn't, perhaps, the best idea.

I fear, though, that this Dr. Alexa notion is one that very serious. Or, rather, Siri-ous.

How long, therefore, before you never again need to hear: "The doctor will see you now."?

Instead, it'll be: "Dr. Alexa can see you all the time. And hear you as well. And prescribe you a little something right now."

Published on: Oct 13, 2018