Virtual Assistants Need Some Personality – Hire a Human!

They really do need us.  Just when I was starting to worry that Artificial Intelligence (AI) would become so pervasive that it would eclipse our limited human capacities, I now read that the tech behemoths (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft) are now hiring real people to make these virtual assistants sound more human.  Microsoft, for example, has hired poets, novelists, playwrights and former television writers to be members of their writing teams.  So technology may help us become more literate after all, or at least will provide more employment opportunities for those who are literate.  Oh, I forgot to include comedians in the list of desired writing team members.  That makes me happy!

This is very good news for job seekers in the U.S.  By 2025, 12.7 million new U.S. Jobs will involve building robots or automation software; by 2019, more than one-third of the workforce will be working side by side with such technologies.  That’s only three years away (Forester Data).  What a change in the work place!  In the old days you just had to worry about getting along (or not) with the humans you worked with.  Now you will have to get along with your “artificial” colleagues as well.  I’m not sure that they will become supervisory personnel in the future, but I would guess that many of you are thinking that you have already worked for some real “bots” in the past.

Some early studies of human-robot interaction have found that attempts to make robots seem more humanlike can inspire unease or revulsion instead of empathy.  Maybe we all just have to learn to “get along,” but I don’t know if robots can be programmed for that?

Ray Myers


Yoga or Virtual Reality?

I guess there are a lot of ways to obtain inner peace, or to let go of the material world in order to enter a more spiritual place.  Yoga seems to be the most popular alternative today.  And then of course, there is always virtual reality which is a whole other “place.”  It seems like creating and seeking these alternative realities is becoming a 21st Century obsession.  Whether you want to travel to an ashram in India, or immerse yourself in interactive technological experiences, the desired outcomes seems to be the same: literally or figuratively going to another “place” that is not your everyday reality.

Or maybe there are so many optional realities available to us today that we can chose to live in multiple realities in any given day.  And that seems to be true for most of us.  From the time we turn on the TV, or settle into our work-a-day routines, we become immersed in our personal “reality shows,” not to mention our connected networks of social media, etc.   But I may be getting a little carried away here.  The basic point of going to an ashram for a year is to leave our “normal” lives behind, and I am aware that this is a luxury that most of us can not afford to do.

I think I have some sense of what yoga can do for you in terms of introspection and meditation, but I am still at a loss for fully appreciating virtual reality?  Please understand that I am still a true believer that technology can change the world, but I think the hard part is understanding ourselves and how we live our lives in an ever-changing world.

Ray Myers