For some reason, the song “Daisy, Daisy” popped in to my head the other day. The song is actually called “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)”, according to Wikipedia.
This song always had a slightly sad/sinister undertones for me, ever since I saw the wonderful but weird film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, astronauts spend quite some time travelling in a spacecraft which is overseen by its HAL 9000 on-board computer, which is known to the crew as ‘Hal’.
Hal has advanced speech capabilities, holding conversations with the crew about quite complex subjects. Unfortunately, Hal decided at some point that the crew’s mission is too important to be left to mere humans and tries to wipe them out. In doing so, Hal remains calm and extremely polite, which somehow adds to the tension of the situation.
A surviving member of the crew manages to make Hal less of a threat, by deactivating its higher intellectual functions.
In a strange way, it’s a very touching scene; as the computer loses its intelligence and personality it regresses to the first thing it was taught by its creator – the “Daisy, Daisy” song.
Despite recent advances we’ve some way to go before computers become sentient. However, their ability to act as though they are is improving and I think software such as Siri is extremely impressive in understanding and responding to questions and commands.
Poorly Functioning Voice Recognition Systems
Sadly, all software isn’t up to Siri’s standards and like every system which promises much but fails to deliver, there are few things more annoying than a poorly-functioning voice recognition system. The classic example of this is some in-car systems, which either cannot recognise your request at all, or worse, carry out a task which you didn’t request, such as making a call when you wanted to programme the satnav. However, when it works well it’s extremely useful.
Voice Recognition Can Be the Difference Between A Good Experience Vs. A Great One
I’ve found that not all survey tools include voice recognition capabilities. Using voice recognition for online survey tools is increasingly important to the companies that provide the survey tools and for business owners who use them—large or small. Consumers are increasingly interacting with online services and surveys via mobile devices and while many people are comfortable with typing text, if they have a lot to say, it can be extremely inconvenient to give their thoughts and feedback without voice recognition.
Some survey companies including MaritzCX, use the devices’ microphone functions to allow customers to dictate their answers to open-ended questions. You might think this sounds like a small thing, but then again, it’s often small touches like this which turn a consumer experience from a good one to a “GREAT” one.
The Future for Voice Recognition?
Where will voice recognition take us in the future? I think it could yield great benefits, but we also need to be careful. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where everything I said was monitored and stored by devices in my environment or which I was wearing. Coming back to the film, 2001, the crew recognized this danger and took care to speak out of earshot of Hal when they wanted to have private conversations; what they didn’t realize was that Hal could lip read. Could we be entering an age where there is no such thing as privacy?