Speech Technology Industry Organization Challenges “Dire Predictions” About AI

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Applied Voice Input Output Society claims misunderstanding of technology such as speech recognition can slow advances that aid human society

In recent news, we have heard about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI) from some of the brightest (and richest) people in the world. Steven Hawking, for example, recently told the BBC, "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race." And Bill Gates and Tesla's Elon Musk recently issued similar long-term warnings.

The Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS) has promoted the development of commercial applications of speech and language technology for 34 years, and exemplifies AI technology developing more slowly than expected. Speech recognition and natural language applications, such as personal assistant software, has finally matured to mainstream applications only after decades of effort. The organization announced that the overstatement of what AI technology can do and how it does it can create unfounded fears that slow the advance of valuable and difficult technologies that aid humans much more than they challenge them.

"We have much more to fear from the misuse of computer technology by humans—cyber-terrorism and cyberwarfare—than from the machines themselves," Dr. William Meisel, Executive Director, AVIOS, said. "The dire predictions of danger from 'intelligent' technologies such as natural language understanding runs the risk that we don't fully pursue the huge benefits they will be providing."

AVIOS gave examples of some of the potential benefits, benefits discussed in detail at the organization’s upcoming Mobile Voice Conference April 20-21 (http://www.mobilevoiceconference.com):

  • A personal assistant application on a mobile device in our business and personal lives can in effect increase our intelligence and skills by being an always-available source of information and facts. It can make the assets of the Web available simply through an inquiry in the language we have been taught since birth.
  • Language technologies can expand our memories by letting us store information by just telling an application to remember it and retrieve that information by just asking for it.
  • Language technologies can do web searches that return answers rather than links.
  • Specialized natural-language applications can help a company's employees fight "digital overload"—too many devices, too much communication, and a challenging range of enterprise applications, making individuals and organizations more efficient and effective.
  • Language technologies can provide tools to learn reading or speaking a language, and can help us communicate internationally with automatic translation. In schools, technology can be a one-on-one teacher for students struggling with learning to read.
  • Language technologies can allow us to continue to be productive if we develop physical limitations to typing or seeing.
  • In automobiles, speech interaction can make use of the growing infotainment, navigation, and mobile-phone-connectivity features safer, as well as making us more productive on the go.

"A more natural, intuitive, and always-available connection with digital technology in effect makes us smarter and more efficient," noted K. W. 'Bill' Scholz, president, AVIOS, and president, NewSpeech. "It can, for example, provide, on-the-job training, letting workers learn as they do, developing new skills."

Meisel noted that one trend creates a major new category of creative jobs. "Since conversation can engage an individual more tightly than simply listening or reading, we will see a new category of digital and web applications that converse with us, and adapt their responses to our responses. This is, for example, likely to eventually be a major trend in advertising, what the Wall Street Journal called 'chatvertising.' And interactive entertainment and information sources that require much more material than a linear book or movie will probably require a team of writers, providing more jobs for creative people." (See Can Artificial Intelligence create a new non-technical job category?)

The detailed program of the fifth annual Mobile Voice Conference, April 20-21, 2015 in San Jose, California, has been published at http://www.mobilevoiceconference.com/program.

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Peggie Johnson
AVIOS
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