Some of that’s just raised expectations crashing into reality. On a recent sweltering day, I was closing my bedroom windows so I could turn on the air conditioning. I asked Alexa to turn on the ceiling fan and then stopped, laughing—not because my Echo couldn’t hear me, but because my fan is dumb. It’s not Alexa compatible, and never will be.

It’s a schizophrenic kind of reality, living with one foot in the future and the other in the past. I’d gotten used to bossing Alexa around in my kitchen, and I transferred that knowledge to the bedroom, a serene space where we try to keep gadgets out of sight. I was effectively a guy in the early 1900s flipping a light switch to snuff out a gas lantern.