Virtual assistants have become part of the furniture in households across the world, with many of us becoming increasingly reliant on our friendly smart speakers.
However, many of us will also know the annoyance of being confronted by our gizmo’s electronic voice when we most certainly did not ask it a question.
The 68-year-old, who is chair of the committee which vets the appointment of senior ministers and officials, had begun discussing a letter he had written to the Cabinet office, when a “switching on” tone could be heard in the background.
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He then continued: “It seems to me on something like this…” when suddenly he was interrupted by Alexa’s unmistakable voice saying: “Hmmm, I don’t know that one.”
Pickles immediately apologised, telling his colleagues: “Oh I’m so sorry, that’s… er…” and then trailing off, laughing awkwardly and coughing.
William Wragg MP, chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), then interjected: “I think, Lord Pickles, your computer spoke for us all there.”
Pickles then responded: “I won’t say the computer’s name because otherwise it’ll start wittering on forever,” before – at last – getting back to business.
A clip of the incident was met with joy on Twitter, as users empathised with the former minister’s plight:
A tip, for next time Lord Pickles: if you have an important call about the inner machinations of Whitehall, it might be worth just switching Alexa off at the mains.