Why do tech companies give us these cool free digital voice assistants? (Hint: If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold.)
Because of recent major advances in natural language processing and machine learning, individuals will soon be able to speak conversationally not just to their phone assistant or smart speaker but to their dedicated bank assistant, kitchen equipment, restaurant menu, hotel room console, homework assignment, or car.
It could all seem like a small price to pay until you project out the use of this tech into the near future. An apparel store clerk uses an analysis of your voice to determine the likelihood of whether you can be sold certain clothing. You call a fancy restaurant for a reservation, but its voice analysis system concludes that you don’t meet its definition of an acceptable diner and are refused. A school denies a student enrollment in a special course after voice analysis determines that the student was insincere about their interest in it.
How would such a future materialize? It all starts with users giving companies permission. —NY Times