Is Voice Assistant Technology In Danger Of Being Too Human?

“Alexa, are you trying to be too human?”

If you haven’t asked your Alexa that question yet, then you might soon since a new study reveals that voice assistant technology may be trying to be human too hard. What does this mean?

Is the future of voice assistants to be more human than ever?

As per a recent global estimate, there are around 200 million smart homes in the United States, which means that it’s a house equipped with a smart speaker providing voice-controlled access to the internet. Add this to the fact that almost all modern smart phones are fitted with talking virtual assistants, and you can just see how widespread voice assist technology is.

It’s easy to see why since talking is the most fundamental part of human communication, so it’s no wonder how modern technology and AI is catering to that need. The result then, is countless voice assistants that replicate realistic human conversations to give a more genuine feel. But is it really helpful? Completely unnecessary and dishonest?

The More Human, The Better AI

For decades, the idea of being able to talk to machines as if they are actually humans have long fascinated the minds of many, as evidenced by Samantha from the movie “Her,” or HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But should this really be the focus of technology?

Whenever we interact with people, it’s to both get things done and maintain relationships, something that can’t be said for machines, which only have limited purposes. As such, talking to humans should inspire us to talk to humans more, and not serve as a gold standard for what machines should be able to achieve. At the end of the day, these are machines with limited capabilities after all, and so human-like conversation interaction shouldn’t be a default end goal.

Moving forward, it’s hard to predict how far human technology can go, and whether talking to or seeking advice from a machine should be the norm. Still, it raises valid questions, both technologically and philosophically, and time will tell whether this will bring harm or good.

Siri A man uses 'Siri' on an iPhone in the Apple store in Covent Garden on October 14, 2011 in London, England. Oli Scarff/Getty Images