“Hey Google, What Can’t You Do?”

It seems like voice assistants are taking over everything we do.  The fact is, Automated Devices may soon be a bigger part of our lives than we might be ready for, no matter which side of the iRobot fan-base you’re on. The Amazon Alexa and the Google Home, two of the most known intelligent personal assistants, have solidified their popularity for their usefulness in homes around the world, since the initial release of the Amazon Alexa in 2014. And they don’t plan on stopping there.

The Vice President of Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills, Steve Rabuchin stated that Amazon wants the iconic Alexa voice everywhere. “[Voice-controlled technology] is a significant new interface that humans will use. It’s very convenient and it makes hard things simple,” he said, “voice is going to be everywhere, you want to see voice transition from the home, when you get into your car…you’d also want it at work.”

With the start of the new year Amazon has set out to make that vision a reality, announcing projects to integrate their products into vehicles and workplaces, and they aren’t the only ones expanding. Samsung is currently working on the integration of their personal assistant, Bixby, into smart TV’s and other home appliances, like Smart Refrigerators, to be released sometime within the next few years.

Automated voice technology is also taking over DSU; upon opening the Bluetooth menu on your phone you might find your neighbor’s voice assistant active. But how useful are they to students, and what do students think about a world controlled by the Internet’s own voice?

Phyzon Milton, a Game Design major and owner of a Google Home Mini had this to say: “…they are a great tool to have, it makes life a lot easier, and it kind of fits into our sedentary lifestyle, which is the kind of trend that we’ve had going on for a while.”

But there is fear involved when one thinks about the sedentary lifestyle that Milton mentions, “…It shouldn’t take over everything that we do…It shouldn’t take everything away that people can do. Then why even have people at that point?” On the other side of the debate Haley Asimakopoulos, an Education major thinks that they don’t have day-to-day functions, “If I had a use for one every day, yes, I would, but I don’t…I only use it when I have random questions.” 

When asked if she thought voice assistants could control our lives by doing many regular tasks sometime soon, Asimakopoulos said, “I can see it already happening.”

As voice assistants continue to take over bits and pieces of our regular lives, one might ask the question, is technology going too far? Not long ago, the thought of creating a true artificially intelligent device was almost laughable, and now it seems to be the next best thing. Can you imagine a world where a human’s life is measured by how much they actually do themselves instead of starting every sentence with, “Hey Google…”

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