I love the advancement of technology and I am fascinated by all that it can do. In the world of tech I get excited, frustrated and overwhelmed by the possibilities at my finger tips. I am pro technology. However, I have concerns of technology’s overuse and the lack of balance in our lives. This post is a reflection on voice intelligence.
In 2004 the movie I Robot came out and it suggested that intelligent robots were in our future. Well the future is here, have you heard of the Amazon Echo? Its technology is incredible. Amazon Echo (named Alexa) is basically a voice-controlled Bluetooth speaker with smarts. I spent some time with “Alexa”. I asked her many questions from weather updates, sports scores, current news and word definitions. She played music by voice request, raised and lowered volume control and stopped when asked. She pretty much responded to most of my commands. (Newer generations of Alexa are able to do even more).
The benefits for this device are far-reaching for everyone. I loved it, no more spell check, no more taking out the lap top for answers. Just by using my voice from anywhere in the room, I would have instant access to information. I could have an electronic assistant to take notes of daily reminders and help me with my to do lists. How great for senior citizens struggling with technology skills, fine motor skills and yes even cognitive skills. How great for busy parents to have a hands free device for all information from recipes to childcare issues, immediate access to the information network for all things. That means toddlers could be instantly engaged and empowered to turn on music, find out information and program their electronic devices. They wouldn’t have to wait for mommy and daddy to “turn it on”. Young children would just ask a question and get an answer instantly, (homework buddy?) There would be no research skills needed and no patience required. No waiting time, just instant information using a voice. How clever; to make life easier, faster and smarter.
Wait a second, is this ok? Is this healthy for the young developing mind?? Then how would kids learn to explore, research and wonder? How would they act upon their wonder when Alexa (or other virtual assistants) are there to instantly deliver information for them. Don’t get me wrong this gadget is really awesome for many but is it awesome for every age? Does this prevent valuable pausing time to discover and engage? Does this prevent children from learning how to be patient and give less room to fail? Is this one more electronic device that gives immediate gratification to the young mind?
These are just random thoughts about a cylinder named Alexa. The future is upon us. I wonder how the Alexa’s of the world are retarding our skill sets for problem solving, critical thinking and retention. Are we really getting more intelligent from all this information? Will Alexa one day tell us how to cope, how to manage our disappointments and teach us to nurture relationships? Will we become a society that advances in communication and knowledge through technology and yet fail in face to face social emotional communication? How do we manage the lure of technology and also maintain a healthy life for both our children and ourselves? How do we prevent over usage and restore balance in everyday life? Thoughts to ponder..
Please feel free to post your comments, no rush required.