Voice Assistants

 In Blog, Media Literate Parenting, Neil Andersen

Hey Google, who are Siri, Cortana and Alexa?

Children really like voice assistants for at least two reasons: the interface is easy, requiring only voice commands instead of the challenges of the keyboard or tablet; and they get instant results, giving them a feeling of empowerment. Toddlers love to request a favourite song that plays almost immediately. Voice assistants are also our first robots, so they are helping children prepare for working with robots in their future personal and professional lives.



Families need to consider how they treat voice assistants. Using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when commanding voice assistants is an interesting conundrum. If we use them, we are treating machines the way we treat people. Might that mean that our future relationships with machines will be to treat machines as people? If we don’t use please’ and ‘thank you’ might we also stop using those courtesies when dealing with human clerks, servers and baristas? Will that be a good thing?

As with Smart TVs, families need to know that voice assistants are always listening, and that what they ‘hear’ is transmitted to the companies that sold or service them.

Are families comfortable with Apple, Google and Amazon recording, knowing and sharing details of their lives?

Might family members censor what they say to each other to withhold details?

Are  guarded conversations the way they want to conduct their family’s business, or would they rather be candid with each other in their own homes?

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