Terms like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are all the rage of late, and indeed these technologies have come a long way in a short space of time. It was not so long ago that voice operated phones understood what you were trying to say perhaps half of the time, and were extremely limited in their functionality. Today, voice recognition software is a great deal better, and even more impressive when paired with services such as Google Assistant or Siri.
Applications such as Google Assistant are often referred to as the ultimate manifestation of modern artificial intelligence technology, able to recognise voice commands, perform digital tasks, and even tell jokes. Most incredible of all is that the time required to process these complicated operations is just seconds.
Now, with voice-based systems making their way into the customer service industry, it seems that artificial intelligence may be making the long awaited leap to the next level. The question is; just how far advanced are such systems really, and can they really replace humans?
A Human Element
The Turing Test, developed back in 1950, is a very straightforward concept. The test asks; can a machine exhibit intelligence to such an extent that it is indistinguishable from human? After all, it’s one thing to ask Google Assistant to provide a suggestion for the best casino online or to find a recipe for a specific dish, and another to actually consider the system as smart as a human.
The truth is that in the majority of cases, there are still no systems that could truly pass the Turing Test. Although we are happy to interact with voice-activated systems, we don’t really, on any level, believe we are interacting with a human. At least not yet.
Though, according to data released by Google, interactions with home-based voice activated devices, such as Google Home and Alexa, show a remarkable level of civility. For example, around 41% of users say thank you to their devices after making a request, despite it being completely unnecessary. So, although users hardly think of their voice-activated assistants as human, there is an element of humanity in the interactions.
Influence Over Customers
Companies such as Google probably dream of a world where you rely on your Google Assistant for just about everything. It’s convenient for you, for sure, since everyone could use a smart, capable assistant. The problem is though, that no matter how smart Google Assistant is in terms of understanding you, and following requests, it is also a product 100% made by Google.
This may not seem sinister at first, but think more deeply, and you’ll soon realise the implications. Google Assistant is not just a voice activated artificial intelligence system; it is one that will happily also make sure you never stray far from being a very firm part of the Google network. The same can be said for Siri and Apple, as well as Alexa and Amazon.
In other words; your digital assistant might influence you in more ways than you’d like to admit, such as future purchases you may make, and which companies deserve more of your time. Something like having a sales agent for Google lurking in your home, masquerading as a friend.
Further Digital Assistant Reach
As networks and digital systems become more integrated, and interlinked with one another, the extended reach of digital assistants is ever greater. UPS recently announced that Google Assistant will be linked to their tracking services, meaning that asking Google Assistant where your package is will give detailed, reliable results.
It stands to reason that more companies and services will likewise look to integrate, giving hopes for a future where just about anything can be done by simply talking to your phone, or another applicable device. It’s truly fascinating when you stop to think just how far this reach could go, and how vastly interconnected services could become.
The Future Of Digital Assistants
It seems that it is only a matter of time before company call centres are run almost entirely by artificial intelligence based systems, and perhaps even government support centres. Such steps only seem logical, given the obvious potential and benefit.
The question is; just how far can it be taken, and how much responsibility are we willing to place in the digital hands of something that is not human, no matter how much it is designed to seem like one?