Home Cartoon: Talking Web

Cartoon: Talking Web

The word on the street this month is speech. (Which makes it the spoken word on the street.) Speech-based iPhoneapps are just a throat-clearing for the stream of oratory that IBM says we can expect from computer users within the next five years.

It may finally be time I did something about that compulsive swearing issue, unless I want some seriously skewed search results. But that may only be the beginning.

Just as a lot of us have sore arms, shoulders and necks from using mice and keyboards, we may find unexpected consequences from training our voices to use precise diction, simple sentences and clear directives. For instance, we may all end up sounding like voice-mail systems in real life. (“Darling, will you marry me?” “It sounds like you’re asking me to marry you. I can help you with that.”)

My biggest fear, though, is that we’ll lose something far more precious than the nuance and subtlety of the human voice – and that’s the ability to yell at a recalcitrant device with impunity. There’s profound satisfaction in telling your computer to go screw itself, without worrying that it might attempt to comply with the instruction.

More Noise to Signal

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