Sometimes you just need an objective, third-party robot to pacify the fam.

By Maggie Seaver
December 19, 2019

Is there anything Alexa can’t do? Bring you the weather—easy. Share Real Simple Tips—done. Tell an age-appropriate joke—you got it. Now Amazon’s voice-activated smart speaker has a brand new feature, dubbed the “distraction technique,” that you and yours might want to look into for December 25—particularly if your holiday family time gets overrun by unpleasant political arguments

You can finally say goodbye to your uncle’s pot-stirring political opinions—and your sister-in-law’s inflamed rebuttals (and your dad’s subsequent pleas for a cease-fire)—just by saying, “Alexa, change the subject.” 

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Once prompted, your handy AI assistant will do just that, change the subject, supplying fun questions to inspire less intense, sensitive conversations. Think: “What would your superpower be and why?” “Who is your celebrity crush?” or, “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?” Sure, your family may disagree on the genre of this particular flick, but the conversation stakes will be much, much lower. (Your relatives are far less likely to have a massive falling out over a Bruce Willis movie than they are about an intense political argument.) The hope is to distract the group and get them laughing and talking in neutral territory. Pretty genius, right?

And (as you may already know) politics isn't the only catalyst for discomposure during the holidays. Amazon survey research actually named money as the biggest source of contention among loved ones, Yahoo.com reports. Amazon research also uncovered the moment most ripe for a disagreement: 6.30 p.m. on Christmas Day (December 25)—whether it’s over foreign affairs, what to watch on TV, or who cheated during the annual game of charades. Of course, you could pipe up yourself to change the subject and diffuse tension, but sometimes it helps to let the almighty Alexa step in as referee.

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