Alexa, shouldn't you be the voice of your generation?
Why have neither the virtual assistant AI technology from Amazon (nor the one developed by Google) reached the promised land?
Remember when guilty pleasures were a thing? I'm well aware that 2020 mercilessly redefined that term and now they’re just “pleasures” but, kids, there was a time when we used to work hard to hide these peculiar preferences of our lives. For those who have been Tigerkinging their way to sanity since March, the expression “guilty pleasures” is usually associated with unhealthy food, tacky or bizarre cultural taste, or some odd habit. Roxane Gay's guilty pleasure, for example, is watching Law & Order: SVU. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s is reading trashy novels.
Mine are Korean TV shows (Crash Landing on You is pure genius) and asking silly questions to voice-enabled devices (as in “Alexa, find me Chuck Norris”), a refined hobby that has increased significantly in 2020, as you might have guessed, and led me to an inevitable speculation: Alexa, shouldn’t you be the voice of your generation by now?
It sounds like irony, but frustration is a better word.
Gary Vaynerchuk — speaking of guilty pleasures — is also a voice-activated devices enthusiast. For those unfamiliar with him, Vaynerchuk is a Belarusian-American businessman and bestselling author, famous for his lectures and social media omnipresence. Among a thousand of his other theories, he also believes that, as part of “our addiction to speed,” “voice-first is a tech innovation that will transform how the world consumes content.”
He doesn't need me to say that, but I'll do it anyway: he's right.
In his most recent interviews and throughout his book Crushing it! — exclamation mark and all — Vaynerchuk tries to illustrate why voice-first will rule the world (as we know it) — at some point. He also has a very clear theory (not included in the book) about what has been preventing voice technology from growing faster: “This phone we have right now, compared to the voice ‘skills’ that are coming, is garbage. When the first killer app (for voice-enabled devices) comes out, when some ‘Candy Crush’ comes out, when some ‘Spotify’ comes out, that’s when stuff gets…