OK, House. Get Smart: Make the Most of Your AI Home Minions

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So, you’re hosting a dinner and a dispute arises about the pre–Twin Peaks work of Mädchen Amick. Your AI sidekick will settle it in a flash, right? With the internet at its fingertips, you would think so. We put Google Home and Alexa to the test, challenging them with real questions from a real trivia quiz. The answers speak for themselves.

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1. Who is Batman’s butler?

Home: Alfred Pennyworth [and then a New York Daily News story].

Alexa: Sorry, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

2. Four presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Name all four.

Home: According to Christian Science Monitor, the other US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize are, in chronological order, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Jimmy Carter.

Alexa: [No response. I rephrase …]

Which four presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize?

Alexa: Hmm. I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

3. Four state capitals are named for US presidents. Name all four and the state they’re in.

[Nothing, so I tried …]

4. Who was the first person to use “OMG”?

Home: Here is a summary from the Huffington Post. In addition to
representing the first known use of the phrase “OMG,” this 1917 letter from Lord Fisher to Winston Churchill has given us a new favorite catchphrase: “Shower it on the Admiralty!”

Alexa: Hmm. I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

5. What is a googol?

Home: Google! Search for information about someone or something on the internet using the search engine Google.

Alexa: A googolplex is written as a 1 followed by a googol zeros. A googol is itself 1 with 100 zeros after it, which is many times bigger than the number of atoms in the universe, so a googolplex is far too big to possibly write out in decimal form.

6. Which three animated films have been nominated for Best Picture?

Home: According to Wikipedia, only three animated films have been nominated, and none have won.

Alexa: Hmm. I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.

7. What film marked the debut of Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse?

Home: Sorry, I don’t know how to help with that yet.

Alexa: [Sad sound.]

REAL ANSWERS: (2) Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama (3) Jefferson City, MO; Lincoln, NE; Jackson, MS; Madison, WI (6) Beauty and the Beast, Up, Toy Story 3 (7) Plane Crazy


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