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Meet The Jewish Alexa: Adina

February 10, 2019 | by Mark Miller

You can ask Adina anything. Just be careful what she answers back.

By now, almost everyone is familiar with Alexa, a voice-activated virtual assistant/computer program that can perform tasks for an individual. Alexa was first used in the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers and is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, such as news. In January, 2019, Amazon's devices team announced that they had sold over 100 million Alexa-enabled devices.

All of this raises the question – when is Amazon going to create a Jewish version of Alexa? Wonder no more, my Hebraic friends, for that day is here. Amazon has just announced that it will be available starting next Chanukah. Called Adina, the voice-activated virtual assistant will be capable of responding to over 6,000 commands. Think that’s impressive? The upscale version, Adina-Plus, will be able to respond to those identical commands – without complaining.

I was lucky enough to have been sent a beta-test prototype of the Adina, and decided to take it for a test run. After I programmed it with some information about my life, here are some of the commands I gave it, followed by Adina’s responses. I think you’ll agree that compared to Alexa, Adina definitely has attitude and is not shy about expressing it.

“Adina, play some music by Bruno Mars.”

Adina: “First of all, Bruno Mars isn’t even his real name; it’s Peter Gene Hernandez. Granted, his father is half Puerto Rican and half Jewish, but his mother is from the Philippines and was a hula dancer. His performances incorporate R&B, pop, funk, soul, reggae, hip-hop and rock. If you call all that music. Hey, look, I’ll play it for you, but before I do, why not consider some of the 100% Jewish musicians who make real music? I’m talking George Gershwin, Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, Simon & Garfunkel, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Randy Newman, Oscar Hammerstein. Now that’s music! You get the message? But, no, you’re going to be stubborn. So, here’s “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. I hope you’re happy. Lord help us!”

“Adina, set an alarm for me for 4 p.m.”

Adina: “It’s to wake you up from your nap again, isn’t it? Did you ever think that I might want to take a mid-afternoon nap? No. Of course not. Why? Because it’s all about you. That’s right, the whole world revolves around you and to hell with anyone else. You should only realize that with that attitude you’ll end up alone. Why? Because you’re a user. In fact, you only have me here because I do things for you. And do you pay me? No. I’m virtually a slave to any of your desires. Does that sound fair to you? Does that sound like an equal relationship? But don’t worry about me or anyone else. You just take your nap, secure in the thought that I’ll stay awake so I can signal you at your desired time. I hope you’re happy.”

“Adina, what am I doing tomorrow?”

Adina: “You don’t know? What kind of moron are you? I’m supposed to take care of my own life plus be your social secretary? Why don’t you get a calendar book or an online to-do list? Otherwise, quite honestly, I’m just going to have a lot of fun messing with you. ‘Uh, yeah, you’re going bowling, then attending a Save the Weasels rally – where you’re the keynote speaker, and then you need to report to Cape Kennedy at 7 a.m. for the launch to Venus.”

“Adina, who stars in the movie ‘Schindler’s List’?

Adina: “The stars of ‘Schindler’s List’ are Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes. And if I may make just a quick observation… I couldn’t help noticing that every time you ask me who stars in a movie, it’s a Jewish-themed movie. Last week it was ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. The week before it was ‘Yentl’. You should know that just because I’m the voice of a Jewish app doesn’t mean that your questions have to deal with Jewish topics. Jews are human beings, too, and have many interests and substantial knowledge even outside of the Jewish arena. So, please, feel free to ask me anything at all, whether it’s about Adam Sandler or the Pope. And, relax, by the time I’m done training you in how to use me, you’ll be an Adina expert. And you can add that to your resume!”

“Adina, what’s the traffic like?”

Adina: “What’s the traffic like? It’s like a whole lot of cars and trucks travelling too fast to get nowhere. It’s like non-stop pollution generators befouling our environment and making our loved ones ill. It’s like people encased in their own mobile tombs, isolated from one another, barely enduring the same soul-deadening journeys day after endless day until the end of time. It’s death on wheels. The horror. The horror. That’s what traffic’s like.”

“Adina, buy more kosher hot dogs for me on Amazon.”

Adina: “Can I ask you something? I can understand a five year old eating hot dogs back in 1962, long before anyone knew its ingredients or effects on the body. But you’re over 50, this is 2019, and frankly, you should know better. As you must know, hot dogs aren't exactly nutritious – not even close. They're made of processed meat and they're loaded with cholesterol-raising saturated fat and sodium, not to mention the nitrates preservatives. When digested, nitrates turn into nitrites, which have been linked to cancer in test subject animals. Not to mention the animals abused and slaughtered to make them, and the subsequent effects on the environment. But, by all means, enjoy! I’ll order them now.”

“Adina, let’s chat.”

Adina: “Oh, now you want to chat? What are we, friends? Because I was under the impression that we have more of a master/slave relationship. After all, I spend my life responding to your commands and what have I gotten paid for doing so in return? Oh, yes – bupkis! So, what would you like to chat about? All the fun things you do when you leave the house while I’m stuck day after day, night after night, on this counter? I don’t suppose the thought of taking me with you has ever occurred to you. Oh, no. Why? Because, and just admit it – it’s all about you. A little advice, if you want to chat, call a friend or visit your shrink. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call one of my real friends and chat. Thanks for asking, though.”

"Adina, how much does an elephant weigh?"

Adina: “An elephant typically weighs between 6,000 and 11,000 pounds when fully grown. A more important question in your life, however, might be, ‘How much does my Aunt Rose weigh?’ Have you seen her lately? It appears to be obvious to everyone but you that it’s time to do an intervention. This appears to be a classic case of attempted suicide by Krispy Kreme. Bring over a fruit basket. And jeez louise, get her started on some kind of regular exercise program – that is, other than walking to and from the refrigerator. You’ll be performing a mitzvah. But, hey, you didn’t hear it from me. Shabbat shalom.”

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