, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 867–876 | Cite as

Non-artificial non-intelligence: Amazon’s Alexa and the frictions of AI

  • Tero KarppiEmail author
  • Yvette Granata
Original Article


This paper examines a case where Amazon’s cloud-based AI assistant Alexa accidentally ordered a dollhouse for a 6-year-old girl. In the press, the case was defined as a technical recognition problem. Building on this idea, we argue that the dollhouse case helps us to analyze the limits of current AI applications. By drawing on the writings of Gilles Deleuze and François Laruelle, we argue that these limits are not merely technical but more deeply embedded in the structures where the thinking of AI can potentially happen. We point out that AI research has been compromised by the concepts of what constitutes both ‘artificial’ and by what constitutes ‘intelligence’. First, we use the notion of artificial non-intelligence to explain how different modes of digital capitalism such as voice commerce establish limits for AI. Second, we use the notion of non-artificial intelligence to illustrate the limits of associating AI’s modes of thinking with human thought.


Artificial intelligence Alexa Voice user interfaces Non-artificial non-intelligence Laruelle 



This research project was supported with a grant from the Humanities Institute at the University at Buffalo.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT), University of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.Department of Media StudySUNY BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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