Why are Alexa and Siri designed to be so nice?

My Robot Gets Me: How Social Design Can Make New Products More Human, by Carla Diana. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2021; 304 pages, $30.

For decades, “user-friendly” has had a well-accepted definition: software and technology that is relatively easy for a novice to understand and make use of. As our devices have gotten steadily smarter, however, they’ve also become literally friendly. Alexa politely asks if you’d like more information on a topic. Your step-tracking app congratulates you on meeting your daily goal. Siri says “my pleasure” if you say “thank you” after it fulfills a request.

That last

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