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Feared or celebrated, Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant is star of Super Bowl ads

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An android child struggles to control his emotions. Robots threaten to take away human jobs. And a voice-activated device ponders its own existence.

These dark themes were explored by this year’s Super Bowl commercials, with brands such as TurboTax, Olay and Sprint capitalizing on fears that technology is encroaching on our lives. The unspoken subject of many of the ads: Inc.’s Alexa, an increasingly ubiquitous digital assistant sold by one of the world’s most powerful companies.

Amazon had its own commercial, where it poked fun at Alexa. The ad featured rejected ideas for the technology — including a microwave, dog collar and hot tub — and even depicted a massive power outage triggered by Alexa.

Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos also made an in-person appearance at the Super Bowl, where he was spotted with National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Super Bowl’s advertisers benefited from a close game, with the New England Patriots only securing a safe lead over the Los Angeles Rams in the final minutes. The Patriots won the game 13-3.

The sponsors included companies seeking to disrupt the TV industry itself. Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube TV slapped its brand on the game’s kickoff show, and Hulu and Netflix both aired commercials.

The Olay skin-care brand presented another tech-horror scenario. As a home intruder closed in, Sarah Michelle Gellar couldn’t unlock her phone’s facial recognition technology because Olay had transformed her skin. Google’s spot, meanwhile, promoted its language-translation service.

Tech wasn’t the only theme of the night. Brands such as Bud Light and Kraft used a mix of humor and famous faces to get their message out. The game’s key first-quarter commercials included Chance the Rapper and the Backstreet Boys pitching Doritos and Christina Applegate with a new M&M’s chocolate bar.

Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel debuted a new trailer for “Avengers: Endgame” between the coin toss and kickoff — a key slot for advertisers.