Voice Assistant

The Sandra podcast reminded me of last class’ discussion on how to define a “conversation”. 

I remembered agreeing with Itay’s argument that feeling is required to make a conversation yet opinion is optional. Likewise, there needs to be personalities behind two beings (human or computer) who are listening and exchanging words with each other in order to form a dialogue. Even though Siri is based off voice of an actual woman, I am aware that there is no other personal input of hers and that the responds I received are computer generated hence not a real conversation. Similar but different, Sandra is an interesting intersection between assistive voice technology and customer service. It is unsettling knowing that there is actually a team of people possessing your data with an individual responding you in real time per request yet disguised as one persona. I interpret the design decision of removing virtual assistants’ actual voice as a way of reducing emotions to ensure the  users’ wills have been fulfilled efficiently. Meanwhile, I also speculate the intention behind the deliberate use of generic voice is to create a separation between human and artificial intelligence. I wonder why Orbital Teledynamics decided not to use AI for natural language processing when Helen’s off-topic advice was obviously not allowed by rules yet an unavoidable mistake as she is only a human. The answer I have is a little silly but I was thinking that maybe human are still smarter than machine because we understand emotions hence can better recognize another person’s need to provide the most relevant information.


Moving onto DialogFlow, I began use the program to create a relationship assistant. Inspired by all the available resources online that analyzes men’s behaviors for women to determine if someone is into them, I decided to make my own consulting services where users are asked to give yes or no answers to a chain of questions. They will either receive a result of “Honey, he is not into you.” or the reverse. Below is a screen recording of how it functions.

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