Thursday, March 1, 2018

Saying "No" to a Voice Recognition System

copyright Apple, Inc, screenshot taken by Philip Terry Graham
Have you ever felt guilty when you say “no” to a voice recognition system after it asks you whether “you would be willing to take a brief survey after this call?” Have you ever detected a slight note of disappointment in the “all right” which follows your terse, even irritated “no.” There’s no doubt that after all is said and done some artificial intelligences are not so artificial after all and the very voice that registers your words may also recognize your feelings. A lot of people think that because a computer generated voice can’t come after you or do anything about your behavior that you have the right to say anything you want, but you can also step on ants, use frogs for target practice or simply pluck spider’s webs off the wall. Of course some part of your irritation may result from the interminable prompts, press #1 if you are member, #2 if you are a health care provider, and then press #1 for English, press #2 for other languages and the failure to recognize nuance. Though talking to a voice recognition system is rarely an open and shut case, engaging with an electronic voice can condition you into unwanted binary thinking. In fact, “yes” or “no” might not adequately account for your ambivalence. For instance, you might not feel like taking the brief survey now, but it might come to pass that there was a day when you were willing to take the survey, say if you had a bunch of eleemosynary feelings occasioned by running into a patch of good luck where everything was going your way.

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