Wednesday, February 01, 2012

973 The Listening Machines

973 The Listening Machines

Ready for the next tech revolution?  If you answered “Can’t w8,” you’re already there.  For the uninitiated, that’s “can’t wait.”  LOL.  (Laughing out loud.) IMHO, there’s more coming.  (IMHO = In My Humble Opinion.)

As texting is destroying written English, “voice recognition” software is going to destroy spoken English.  Oh, there are some decent programs of that sort around.  But most of them are terrible.

One of the most blatant examples:  a recent report says “Siri” the voice software in the now-current iPhone can’t handle a Scots pronunciation and keeps telling would-be users just that or following directions that weren’t given.

But it’s not just accents and variations of speech patterns that drive the software to drive you nuts.  You have to talk like a robot to be understood.  Don’t bother with emotion or inflection.  The machine won’t get it.  Don’t bother with normal speech pace.  The machine won’t get it.

Soon, we’ll be talking to one another that way because technology changes things beyond itself.  As written English has been flattened to fit the gizmos, so will be speech. And as software controls the way you use words on screen, so will it control your choice of words in speech.

“Note to myself” sometimes works on Android phones.  But the machine prefers “Note to self.”  If you tell it “pick up milk on the way home,”  you may see that appear on the screen.  Or it may tell you “pucker up silk on the comb.”  Huh?  “Invite Jim for coffee” might turn out “despite Jim the toll fee.”  (Good thing you’re not inviting Jim to the gym.)

Conspiracy theorists will gather that technology’s destruction of language is part of an attempt to destroy concepts.  Probably, that’s not true.   But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

In the meantime, practice saying things like “take me to your leader” giving each word equal emphasis.  And hope that it will come out “steak inside bird feeder.”


--There’s an anti-diabetes ad on New York City buses and bus stops featuring a fat guy who looks like he had his leg amputated.  This turns out to be a Photoshopped picture of a guy with all his arms and legs.  What, they couldn’t find a real diabetic who really had had his leg sawed off?

--Cain has endorsed Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination.  After Romney gets nominated, Herman and Newt can take a “victory” lap around the states they lost.  Call it the Phatt Philanderers Phestival.

--Brokaw wanted Romney to pull the anti-Gingrich ad featuring part of a 1997 NBC News report.  Is this a copyright issue?  Or does Brokaw just not want people to see how young and thin he was 15 years ago?

Have You Noticed?  It’s almost impossible to buy anything that doesn’t have Oxiclean or Febreze already added and soon both will be put directly into the water supply.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2012

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