Look, you give me a robot—even one that exists merely as a screen, speaker, camera, and microphone—and my first order of business is going to be screwing with it: trying to elicit the most explicit response I can. But Alexa, as found in the Echo and new Echo Show, is not prone to being explicit.
In fact, over the course of two days of dirty experiments, I found Alexa to be really, really prudish. There was one whole day when requests for porn were met with episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; the next day it suggested I watch Spring Breakers. Asking for a dildo leads Alexa to bleep the word “dildo,” and the same thing happens when inquiring about the titmouse.
Start to ask too many dirty questions, and Alexa even catches on, suggesting you disable the restricted mode that all Alexa devices ship with. This will lead to less bleeping, but doesn’t necessarily lead to more tits, dicks, and other bits. Also, you have to disable restricted mode for any skills separately—including YouTube.
And if you doubt that Alexa doesn’t understand your most rude, crude, and socially unacceptable questions, note that even when it says it’s unable to answer, it sometimes still—inexplicably—knows what you have asked. While it tells me it can’t show me boobs on the Echo Show, when I log into Alexa via a browser on my phone or laptop and look up my most recent queries, I notice this lovely image.
Alexa might be smarter than I thought.