As the evolution of communication technologies continues, the way we communicate with computers and other technological tools is changing. Voice assistants that we can command with our voice on telephone or other devices connected to the Internet are some of the best examples of this. What is the impact of this technology on our lives and what awaits us in the future?
What are these voice assistants?
Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, or Google's Google Assistant…
For the first time in 2011, Siri, a service offered by Apple, has become so popular that voice assistants have created great excitement with the technology we see in science fiction films. Although not widely used in practice, Siri is able to understand us 95 percent today and fulfill our wishes where technology allows. In the same way, Google's Google Now understand us 92 percent and serves us accordingly.
Alexa, which is connected to Amazon's smart speaker Echo, works in line with the smart products in our house. It can play music, read news, prepare to-do lists, order food and turn on lights, download curtains, manage home heaters depending on smart home systems. In fact, this voice assistant became so useful that it started to integrate with automobile companies such as Ford, Hyundai and Volkswagen.
Windows's Cortana, like voice assistants, is a software that works with voice commands. Cortana entered our lives long before Siri. It also has the ability to perform more operations than Siri. Not having Turkish language option yet, it is expected to be active in Turkey in the coming years.
We'll stop touching the screens and just talk. Although it is still not necessary to use voice assistants for some of the users today, ComScore, a media measurement and analytics company, has a significant vision. Between the years 2020-2021, half of the internet calls will be made with voice assistants. So this information tells us; In the near future, we will stop touching the screens and improve communication by talking, a more traditional form of communication.
The issue of privacy
At this point, the problem of privacy, which is one of the cons of almost every technological development, is unfortunately faced again. It was revealed that on April 11, 2019, Amazon's smart assistant, Alexa, made a sound recording that was listened to by a team of workers of the company. These voice recordings also are linked to the customer's name, serial number and account number of the device, which was an indication that data was collected personally.
According to Bloomberg meeting with Amazon employees, Alexa users formed a team to listen to the users. Some days, the team said that the material they listened to increase to 1000 audio recordings (per nine-hour shift). Among the recordings that team members say they are listening; a woman singing in the shower, a child's screaming, and the sounds of a sexual assault.
Amazon spokesman e-mailed BuzzFeed soon after they announced that Amazon’s team shared the sound recordings that were difficult to understand or very funny in their chat rooms. In the statement, it was said that Alexa make audio recordings and extremely small parts are listened, which is necessary to improve speech recognition and natural language comprehension systems, so that Alexa can better understand the demands of the users and provide good service for them.
In addition, Apple and Google, two other popular voice-controlled assistants, have a team responsible for reviewing users' commands. However, these two technology giants argue that they keep records anonymous and do not link them to the customers' accounts.
Nevertheless, this situation shows us that the problem of privacy, which is a benefit of almost every technological development, continues to exist in voice assistants.
The future of the voice assistants
1. Personalized assistants
Today, voice assistants are generally only interested in what is said. However, when technological developments are taken into consideration in the near future, voice assistants will be able to provide us with more personal answers and understand where we are and in which situations we are in through our tone.
2. Access at any time
The voice assistants' working logic integrated with smart tools will be further developed and almost all of the products around us will be connected to the Internet with the Internet of objects. At this point, we will be able to send commands to all objects connected to the Internet with voice assistants at any time.
Although technological advances affect our lives positively, safety concerns are still very important for some people. People avoid making processes where personal information such as shopping transactions with voice assistants are shared intensively by using voice assistants for security reasons. However, with the developing technology, these processes will become much safer.
4. Automation-related services
We might see a future in which direct employment with voice assistants can be met, where human employment is reduced in areas such as banking. We can save time thanks to automation-dependent services.