18 April 2014

#PRODUCT: 'I speak things into creation': everyone is #talking instead of #typing

In the near future, we might all have affordable hardware to transform our very thoughts to words on our screens. However, much of human thinking is bound up in the act of speaking or performing a task, so verbal interfaces may already be the more “advanced” option.

Writing and communicating verbally, being such an important part of human evolution, may significantly assist people, as they evaluate what they are saying and doing as it happens and thus improve the final creation. For this reason, it is possible that verbal interfaces are already destined to be more effective than brain-machine interfaces.

Does science fiction predict the best possible (and impossible) technology?

Science fiction works seem to have fantasized about the spread of touch-sensitive screens and verbal interfaces for computers long before these technologies became a reality. In the Star Trek series and its offshoots, for example, the protagonists commonly speak to the starship’s computer or use touch-sensitive screens. These may have inspired the real thing, as they were conceived as science fiction before they became science fact.

If fantasies about the (then) impossible have led to people imagining verbal control over computers and the spread of touch-sensitive screens, is it possible that these things represent a kind of optimum, and anything further may just be impractical? If so, the verbal interfaces and touch screens being adopted in recent years could be with humanity for centuries and stay largely unchanged.

Life is getting better

Talking text into creation is getting easier and more affordable all the time, and there is a reason why more and more people are using it. Just try out Dragon NaturallySpeaking Home 12.0, English, a cost-effective way of truly bringing your voice into your writing. Dragon does this with a greater level of recognition and accuracy than any other program before it.

Although people often turn to this option due to an injury or disability affecting their ability to use the keyboard, the program is also an effective method for others. All hands get tired on keyboards, and many people are far better at talking than they are at typing.

Speaking your words into your document can aid your task magnificently if you are drafting a rough outline of, say, an essay or story. If you have a lot of work to do, you may find it easier to “talk up” a rough plan of your work first, and then add flesh and increase the detail in your document later.

If you are struggling with “writer’s block”, don’t write. Just talk, because talking is so much easier and more natural a task to start than writing.

Could mind-reading appliances be dangerous?

A lot of what humans do is based on teamwork, where understanding the other person’s actions is key to being able to help them. Verbally interacting with machines might be especially effective if you are working with others, as people can then perceive one another’s actions accurately as they occur, and make suggestions or amendments.

This is one area in which future mind-reading appliances could possibly be at fault. If you were, for example, controlling a vehicle or typing a document with your mind, others on your team would be less available to see your mistakes and recommend changes. If it is a vehicle, for example an aircraft, the stakes are very high, so flight could likely never be entrusted to someone’s thoughts.

Speaking and touching are more natural tasks than typing or writing, and all of these are more natural tasks than simply thinking things into creation via the brain-machine interfaces that are becoming increasingly possible. As the path of extraordinary innovation continues, more questions and dilemmas with social consequences are bound to emerge and capture our attention.

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