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Voice AI—the Interface of the Future. (9 Things
to Know)

by Jaden Nethercott | March 20, 2018

Welcome to the Future

It seems like yesterday that our computers were dinosaurs and it took an age to just to bring up a photo. In the year 2018, we have computers in our pockets, wifi, and can ask a black canister on our table for the week's forecast or to play any song imaginable.

 

It's crazy futuristic. Something we have been dreaming about since before 2001 Space Odyssey's Hal 9000, Blade Runner, and Tony Stark's Jarvis. But we still have a long way to go before these voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are truly integrated into our daily lives.

1. Today's AI are a Little Disappointing

Right now, there is a lot of hype surrounding artificial intelligence and how super useful it is to us right now, but, unfortunately, AI and voice interfaces have a long way to go.

The top features that these super, crazy, intelligent devices are used for timers, alarms, playing music, news and weather. That’s basically a glorified, voice-first alarm clock that, if we are lucky, may hear us after we scream its name across the room. Not super exciting. So, don’t be expecting Samantha from Her, when purchasing Alexa or Google Home.

2. They Think We Talk Funny

One of the biggest setbacks for the current voice-AI experience is Natural Language Understanding (NLU). This is basically how the AI is able to pick up what we are saying, understand it and then respond correctly. This is an extremely difficult area for companies to perfect because of words like bow (as in a hair tie) and bow (as in bow and arrow). When we also take into consideration accents, other languages, sarcasm, and culture the problem of correct understanding becomes even more complex. 

3. They are Kind of Fake

The AI of today, isn't really AI. The majority of functions these personal assistants are able to do are programmed directly into the experience. This basically means that when we ask Google Assistant, “What’s the weather like today?”, its programmed to give us the weather for that day—no machine learning or artificial intelligence necessary. This programming disguised as intelligence is referred to as a Wizard of Oz. It’s basically faking the experience to make us think we are actually talking to a robot. With that said, companies are scrambling to figure out how to use machine learning to help automate these tasks and then inject some intelligence into their AI products.

4. But, They Learn Fast

AI never gets hungry, angry, hangry, sad, depressed, tired, stressed, or annoyed—it simply process. It doesn't have any of the setbacks that we humans do throughout the day that interrupt our thinking and doing. AI uses learning algorithms to take huge sets data and makes connections between them in a matter a minutes. It can then learn from that experience to improve itself for future uses. So, the predictions are that once AI gets a learning process down, it will be able to not only match our intelligence, but exceed it as well. That might sound scary, but AI has a lot of potential to really help us—everywhere from health to the way we shop. It's not something we should fear, but we should be careful about it. 

6. Voice-AI will Make Us Queens

We are entering an age of radical convenience. We simply talk to a device or the air and we can get something almost instantly. Want to watch a cute kitten video? Just ask and a video of cute kittens will appear on the TV. Hungry? Ask it to order a pizza and in an hour there’s a pizza on the doorstep. Confused on what 4200 times 273 is? Just ask. With AI, we all get to be queens and with voice we get to demand it at any point, at any time. What's even crazier is that all of the things listed above, we can do right now with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. 

5. Why Voice is Better Than Touch

The Tech industry is betting a lot on voice. They believe voice will quickly replace touch screens as our main way of playing with our devices. But why should we change from touch to something else? It's worked pretty great for us so far, right? Well, it's because voice is totally better—when it works.

 

What’s cool about voice is how natural it is. Rather than having to pull an iPhone out of our pocket and pressing Cheetos covered fingers all over the glass screen, we now have the ability to have a conversation with our device. This will allow us to get things done faster and more conveniently than ever before—and don't worry about looking goofy talking to your phone on the bus, pretty soon everyone will be.

7. They are Going to Get Personal

With AI, we no longer have to do things manually. The whole idea of AI is that it’s a computer that learns over time, which means that the more we use the service the more it will get to know us and the more integrated it will become in our lives. As the AI starts to become our one place to get things done, the complexities of apps and web browsers will fall away. Instead, we will simply just ask an AI and it will take care of it.

8. Brands will Fight to be Our First Choice.

Companies will be clamoring to get us to remember that they exist in the age of voice interfaces. With Voice, brands become a lot more invisible than ever before. Companies will no longer be able to clutter our spaces with graphic reminders of their services and instead will have to rely on what brands are at the top of our mind.

For example, if we are partial to a brand like Tide for laundry detergent, we will most likely gravitate toward that brand when asking our AI to reorder some for laundry day. The AI will log that brand as our preference and for the foreseeable future, when we ask for laundry detergent, the AI will always order our preferred Tide detergent. This will make it extremely difficult for alternative brands to get noticed.

9. We Need to Pick Wisely

Whichever company’s AI (such as Google or Amazon) we choose to engage with the most, the more locked-in we will be. The more the AI is able to personalize itself to us, the more we will continue using it because it’s simply more convenient. Overtime, it will be very difficult for us to extract ourselves from an AI service, once we have been converted to it. This is why companies like Google and Amazon are currently doing everything in their power to get our loyalty now.

 

So, pick wisely because it will probably be running your life.

Images from GIPHY