THE 999 EMERGENCY NUMBER has been in use since 1936, but actually picking up your phone and pressing three numbers… what is this, the dark ages? For a generation that doesn't think twice about outsourcing lightswitch flicking to digital assistants, there must be a way for Alexa to do it for you.
If that sounds like something you'd actually think, then good news: Scotland Yard is way ahead of you. A report seen by the Sunday Times suggests that the police is thinking along these lines and that smart speakers will "change the face of police contact."
Call us old cynics, but we think they may have a few teething problems. The word "smart" in "smart speakers" is extremely generous: Alexa is as dumb as a particularly low-IQ brick.
Still, the plans are only anticipated in the next 18 months, so maybe virtual assistants will get a lot more intelligent in that time. If that's the case, what kind of thing can you expect?
Well, the report states that a police response could come from "an incoming demand from a home automation bot, rather than from a human."
It continues: "The contact may be triggered by the human issuing a command to their bot." Oh God: just hope you don't spend a lot of time listening to music by The Police, or Scotland Yard may end up blacklisting you.
Worse, a response may be "automatically generated by the bot through AI". That sounds alarmingly like the Echo will be listening out for crimes in the home. Like the telescreens in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, only more inclined to sell you ebooks at the same time.
That all supposes it works as planned, of course. More likely, you'll just end up with police-themed paraphernalia billed to your Amazon account, and delivered two days after the burglars have left. µ
We're not sure this is what The Maybot had in mind
Typical politicians - meme, meme, me
But it keeps the juicy details firmly under wraps