May 13, 2000
10:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm sorry, Dave; I'm afraid I can't do that.
posted by baylink (4 comments total)
I'm not as pessimistic as this article. I'm sure that voice commands will be viable within a limited vocabulary: "Computer, open holodeck doors." And computers will always be able to respond with preset responses that sound natural. "Of course, Dan. I hope you enjoyed your holodeck program." (Yeah, yeah, shut the F up.)

Expecting computers to "understand" natural language isn't the point. Getting computers to respond to voice commands is. That, we can clearly do with strict vocabularies and modal indicators. People can adapt to that as easily as they adapt to, well, a manual transmission.

I believe that certain people look to voice commands because they may not be very good typists. Me, I learned touch-typing in junior high and can type about as fast as I can write, i.e. think out an idea and an accompanying sentence. To me, THIS interface is perfectly natural. Maybe not for everyone, but it can be learned.
posted by dhartung at 11:32 AM on May 14, 2000


My favorite joke on the topic is from Spider Robinson's Callahan series: Noah, the ex-bomb tech, recounts having a nightmare about being on a bomb scene and trying to defuse a voice-activated bomb, only to have a cub reporter/photog come up over his shoulder, shoot a picture, and say, loudly, "Cool! That'll make a great page 1 blow-up!"
posted by baylink at 11:35 AM on May 14, 2000

You might also find this response to the article interesting.
posted by s.e.b. at 12:10 PM on May 14, 2000

As long as we're telling voice-recognition jokes, you have heard the one about the car stereo, right?

A gadgest freak goes into the car audio shop for the latest and greatest sound system. Two hours later, the salesman is pocketing his commission and the gadget freak has had his brand-new voice-activated stereo installed. As he drives away, the driver says, "News," and the radio turns on and tunes to the local news/talk station for the latest stock quotes and an update on the Los Alamos fire. Then the driver says, "Country," and the stereo switches stations; the driver starts listening to Travis Tritt, Shania Twain, etc.

Just then, some guy in an SUV talking on his cell phone cuts the gadget freak off in traffic, missing his front bumper by inches. He yells, "Asshole!" Suddenly, he ralizes that the radio has switched to Rush Limbaugh.
posted by harmful at 3:33 PM on May 14, 2000

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