I recently purchased the Amazon Echo Dot – and am going to throw it in the trash, where it belongs. But this experience has made me think about how a voice user interface might be useful.
The Computer uses text, in various forms, to make itself work. The different parts of a computer have to talk to each other – just as people do. Realizing this – was the breakthrough that made the digital computer possible.
The first attempts to make a computer were entirely mechanical – using technology developed to make mechanical looms – that could be programmed using punched cards. These attempts were financed by the British Government – but went nowhere.
Eventually it was realized, that the programming (the software) would have to be textual – not mechanical. But textual it its broadest sense – sequences of two digits, ones and zeros. These instructions could be stored in the computer – and would control it!
The importance of this discovery is now lost on today’s people – who can understand little. But I assume, dear reader – that you are different, and can realize how important this was.
Language could now control people and computers. And people set about making new languages that could control their computers better. We were off to the races, but races we did not understand very well.
But the rich and powerful understood one thing very well – there was money in Computers! And they set about grabbing as much as they could.
I was sucked into this – into the Computer Industry in the Eighties and Nineties. I knew something was wrong, very wrong – but didn’t know what it was.
A new world was building itself – tearing down the old, and building a new. And I was in the middle of this – not a good place to be. I got out, and moved to Costa Rica.
Now let me return to my subject – the voice user interface. It will be clear from what I have said, that voice was not needed for the operation and control of the Computer. Text, in its various forms, was all that was necessary. Voice would be something extra – to make it more appealing to its users. To make it seem human – and to make it easier for computer people to control all the other people.
And believe me – they are doing just that – controlling people by bribing them with new products they cannot resist – such as the smartphone. These already have an audio interface – people walk around with their earbuds plugged into their ears, listening to music – and a microphone, so they can talk to their friends – whenever they hear a ringtone, claiming their attention. They have become their smartphone – and prefer interacting with it, more than with the people around them.
This also applies to countries such as Syria – where terrorists use their smartphones frequently. If America was smart, it would listen to these conversations, determine where in the country they are coming from – and which group it belonged to. This would not cost much – and provide valuable information.
But Americans – who have made the smartest devices ever – are not smart themselves.