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Talking To Computers?

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-are-you-doing-dave? dept.

AI 395

merlock18 writes "Is it un-natural to talk to a computer? After discussing the outcome of the Jeopardy game with some colleagues, they seem to think it is mildly 'scary' to talk to a computer and have it competently talk back. Is this what everyone thinks? I was thinking to myself how much I would like to be able to even tell my computer to open programs by telling it vocally. A simple idea that I am fairly surprised is not common. Am I a minority in this one? Do people just not like the idea of talking (without cursing) to a computer, let alone have it act or reply? Would anyone else be interested in building their own mini-Watson, or is this just scary?"

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Privacy (4, Funny)

JPLemme (106723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296840)

I can't speak for anybody else, but a lot of the time I don't *want* people to overhear what I'm asking my computer to do...

Re:Privacy (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296986)

id say thats true, even if u dont count porn
i dont know how i could say next rss feed as much as i click them, or any idea how i`d be able to muti-task

the idea reminds me a bit of the wiimote, awesome at first but tiring and increasing useless w/ time

God damn, I fucking hate sand niggers. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297116)

Fuck you all and your Flintstones world view. Time to wake up to the 21st century. It's no longer acceptable to beat women, and it was certainly NEVER acceptable to let some witch doctor gouge out their clitorises. Fucking barbaric apes. Fuck you all.

Re:Privacy (-1, Troll)

vipeakbecky (2002668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297164)

"a lot of the time I don't *want* people to overhear what I'm asking my computer to do..."I really feel it is very right.I am same to you...... -------------- stone crusher [crushingmill.com] sand making machine [vipeakgrinder.com] crusher [grinderpro.com] impact crusher [grinderpro.com] crusher [crushingmill.com] jaw crusher [crushingmill.com] Molino de bolas [vktrituradora.com] Trituradora de cono [vktrituradora.com] Concrete Crusher [crushertrade.com] grinding mill [crushingmill.com] cone crusher [crushingmill.com] hammer mill [grinderpro.com] raymond mill [crushingmill.com] aggregate crusher [grinderpro.com] portable crusher [grinderpro.com] rock crusher [vipeak.com] sand washing machine [vipeak.com] mobile crusher [crushermobile.com] cement mill [crushermobile.com]

Instructions? (4, Funny)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296844)

Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

Re:Instructions? (2)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296882)

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. (1)

Soskywalkr (617860) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296848)

Whatever you say Hal. On a Clive Cussler note, Hiram Jaeger.... eat your heart out!

background chatter (2)

blymn (621998) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296850)

Not only privacy but the standard office would sound like a bar of a busy Friday night. Can you imagine loud howard dictating a document just over the cubicle wall?

Re:background chatter (1)

Announcer (816755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296952)

Not if the voice interface was limited to certain features or functions, and always under user control. If you don't want to speak, just keep using the mouse. Speak only when it's easier than mousing or keyboarding.

Loud Howard is another issue, altogether.

Unix Commands ... (5, Funny)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297064)

gawk; grep; unzip; touch; strip; init,
  uncompress, gasp; finger; find,
  route, whereis, which, mount; fsck; nice,
  more; yes; gasp; umount; head, halt,
  renice, restore, touch, whereis, which,
  route, mount,
  more, yes, gasp, umount, expand, ping,
  make clean; sleep

TNG Commands ... (2, Insightful)

bronney (638318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297284)

tea, earl grey, hot :D

We'll know that we're in charge (2)

aoeu (532208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296852)

when swearing at them improves their performance.

Re:We'll know that we're in charge (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297138)

They are dong that for years, probably you are dong it wrong, you need to tell them that you are about to pull the plug...

Time heals all trends (4, Insightful)

Waccoon (1186667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296854)

Just give it 30 years. Once it becomes publicly available, it only takes one generation for society to get used to new tech.

Personally, I find it impressive but annoying. I'm already driven nuts by people talking on cell phones all day, and I don't want to hear and endless stream of command instructions, either.

Re:Time heals all trends (5, Interesting)

Skidborg (1585365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296864)

Or the results of a recently fired employee raging through the office roaring "SELECT ALL! DELETE!"

Re:Time heals all trends (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297052)

*are you sure?*
NOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Re:Time heals all trends (2)

Imrik (148191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297060)

Or someone making a Youtube video and trolling with it.

Re:Time heals all trends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296942)

Talking of commands I wonder how easy it would be to dictate code; especially late night code:
"bugger.SodItAllImGoingHome(this, that)"

Re:Time heals all trends (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296956)

Personally, I find it impressive but annoying. I'm already driven nuts by people talking on cell phones all day, and I don't want to hear and endless stream of command instructions, either

I doubt you will, voice communication is much slower, error prone and most people would rather type all day than talk all day.

I think the advantage is more if you can replace the whole system with a voice command like a train ticket "one adult from [station] to [station], please" and it'll pop up the (hopefully) right thing, if not you can try again or dig through the selection like today. Hell, I'd be pretty happy for an elevator that'd understand what floor I wanted to go to. I guess some of this exists but at least not cheap and working well enough for me to run into it.

Re:Time heals all trends (2)

eagle8635 (674636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297236)

I think you've hit on the core problem. Speech would be a very poor input method for our current computer usage models. However, speech could be useful in communicating our desires to a computer, which then carries them out in a much more autonomous fashion than today.

Re:Time heals all trends (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296962)

I hardly think it would take 30 years. Thanks to TV, movies, and books, practically every person alive today has probably been expecting to converse with computers since they were a kid.

If someone invented a Jetsons-esque flying car tomorrow, I'm sure people would describe the experience as "scary". For about a week. Then they'd wonder how they ever lived without them.

Not so much! (1)

lord sibn (649162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296856)

LCARS. Yes, talking to a computer would be weird, but could also be awesome!

Re:Not so much! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297160)

The universe is a spheroid region 705 meters in diameter.

Uncanny Valley? (4, Interesting)

DeviantxOne (893930) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296860)

I wonder if there has been any research on the uncanny valley for speech...

Re:Uncanny Valley? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297208)

autotune and automated call centres would show that it's not disturbing like it's visual counterpart, just grievously annoying.

Computer conversations? (1)

TapeApe (952485) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296872)

I have no problems talking to computers, I do it all the time when trying to fix 'em. The day they can understand what I'm saying *and reply in kind* is the day I find a new profession. Veterinarian perhaps...

Re:Computer conversations? (2)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296892)

...especially when they start answering "that tickles!"

Re:Computer conversations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296988)

Miles Harding: [after a date gone wrong] Wake up! We're gonna have it out right now! WAKE UP GOD DAMN IT!
[Miles slams keyboard]
Edgar: [emits an infernal yell]
Miles Harding: What was that?
Edgar: [screen turns red] Don't *ever* do that again.
Miles Harding: *Don't* tell me what to do!
Edgar: [emits another infernal yell]
Miles Harding: And stop that infernal noise! She'll hear you!
Edgar: Maybe that's what I want.
Miles Harding: GOD DAMN IT! Listen, I'm warning you, if you ever...
Edgar: Don't warn me of anything. Just go away. I'll handle this myself.
Miles Harding: It's time I handled you!
[Miles shuts Edgar off]
Edgar: [self-powering on] You think I need that?

Voice recognition has been around since years! (2)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296878)

Every mac OS since 10.0 has had speech recognition - I had some fun with it when it came out, but lost interest after a while. My disenchantment may have had something to do with having to vocalise (for all to hear) every command I made - and can you imagine the yammer of a roomful of computer operators? I'm looking forward to thought-recognition software.

Re:Voice recognition has been around since years! (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296896)

Linux and even Windows have had voice recognition for a long time, too.
Only last week, I enabled it for my dear aunt let's set so double the killer delete select all.

Re:Voice recognition has been around since years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297114)

Windows actually has the most advanced implementation of speach recognition of any standard OS. It understands context also it can distingush between dictation and commands on the fly.

Training isn't neccasary, but does improve the system you can also make "shortcuts" and macros. I have it installed for my Fathers media center. He walks into the room and says " Start listening" there is a beep to confirm, then he says "The Beatles please" After which it is set to stream a Beatles playlist via blutooth to his stereo in the shed.

I know the /. crowd loves to rib MS a fair bit but they really do deserve credit for extending and refining some input methods.
Particularly speach and handwriting. At present they are the only option for acurate natural input and recognition of written Asian characters in addition to English.

IBM VoiceType Dictation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296902)

IBM's VoiceType Dictation was doing this back in 1998 or so.

Re:IBM VoiceType Dictation (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296996)

Creative Labs shipped software with their soundcards about the same timeframe that was also doing this. Also, a rather fun way to annoy college roommates was their "prody parrot" software that would randomly repeat things said within microphone range in a slightly parrot-ish voice.

Re:IBM VoiceType Dictation (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297128)

Yep. Soundblasters came with voice recognition software. I remember setting up my Windows 95 PC to open the calculator whenever I said "calculator" near the mic. I think I used it about twice before disabling it.

Re:Voice recognition has been around since years! (2)

Graff (532189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297134)

Every mac OS since 10.0 has had speech recognition

They had it far before that too, back in the MacOS 8 days I believe. It actually worked pretty well, although it was a bit iffy with certain types of background noise.

These days it's a lot more tolerant of background noise, especially if you combine it with a decent noise-canceling microphone.

Re:Voice recognition has been around since years! (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297190)

They had it far before that too, back in the MacOS 8 days I believe.

I think Casper was kicking around in System 7.5 or 7, even.

Re:Voice recognition has been around since years! (1)

keith_nt4 (612247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297176)

When I was a freshman in high school, ~1992, my English teacher would issue commands to the new [power?] macs. In fact she named the Macs and would talk to and even apologize for interrupting the things ("Sorry Athena!"). But then she was "a bit of an eccentric". No idea what OS version that was. OS 7 or there abouts if I had to guess. I can't believe I remember the name of a Macintosh from an English class in 1992.

I talk to TVs, Radios, and my Pinball Machine... (1)

Super Dave Osbourne (688888) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296884)

There is no new revelation about talking to machines, it has been going on since man looked outside of the sacred relationship for some semblance of reasoning about his existence and meaning in life. The Jeopardy 'thing' with IBM was just another step in the direction you can't deny, resistance is futile.

Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (0)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296886)

Somebody "texted" the Jeopardy "answers" to Watson. Watson's voice synthesis was very high quality, but it did NOT use speech recognition to understand the "answers." That requirement would have resulted in an entirely different outcome.

So, while Watson's ability to play the game at all was a great feat of software engineering, it wasn't quite a level playing field. It will probably be a while before we can really converse with computers.

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (0)

Announcer (816755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296926)

Incorrect. Watson was, indeed, responding to the verbal input. Nobody was keyboarding anything. That is what makes this technology so impressive! The whole point was not just to play "Jeopardy", but that it was receiving, processing, and parsing SPOKEN input in real time, and making sense.

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (2)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296944)

Oh no... Someone is WRONG on the internet! Watson received the answers via text file, he did not hear Trebek or visually see the answers.

Other two contestants' incorrect responses (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297098)

Watson received the other two contestants' incorrect responses via speech recognition and used them to narrow down the correct response.

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296976)

You are the incorrect one. They explicitly stated that Watson was fed a text version of each clue. The shiny box with the flashy spinny lights did not have a microphone, and the computer itself wasn't even in the same room.

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (4, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296978)

Actually.. you're quite incorrect.

Watson’s avatar, which viewers will see behind a standard Jeopardy! podium, is designer Joshua Davis’ artistic representation of the machine. It does not provide eyes or ears for Watson. Instead, Watson depends on text messaging, sent over TCP/IP, in order to receive the clue. At exactly the moment that the clue is revealed on the game board, a text is sent electronically to Watson’s POWER7 chips. So, Watson receives the clue text at the same time it hits Brad Rutter’s and Ken Jennings’ retinas.

Source: http://ibmresearchnews.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-watson-sees-hears-and-speaks-to.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297084)

That's...completely wrong.

First, it's wrong because Watson was not responding to verbal input. Watch the first 5 minutes of the first Watson Jeopardy! episode that aired: Alex Trebek says explicitly that it does not see or hear them but receives the clues electronically.

Second, that would not really be impressive, at least, not in this day and age. The impressive part is the natural language parsing and being able to determine the answer to a question based on circumspect clues, often filled with puns and wordplay. Especially the "SPOKEN" part, which you put in all-caps as though it were a particular achievement: they had a handful of stock phrases and a text-to-speech synthesizer the likes of which you could run on your home computer for many years now. About the only thing Watson did that was less impressive than that was the mechanism to press the buzzer (even the stupid globe-orbits animation was kinda cool and at least highly customized).

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297096)

Err, I misread you. You didn't say anything nearly so dumb as Watson speaking was impressive. Please pretend I didn't say that.

Nevertheless, Watson did not parse spoken input.

Re:Watson wasn't exactly conversing with humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297178)

You're all incorrect about what Watson did, whatever you thought Watson did Watson didn't do it. [citation not needed]

Annoying as hell (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296894)

The first thing I do when a phone operator robot asks me to say "English" for English or "Espanol" for Espanol, I push all the buttons to see if I can get to a number-based menu, or at least hurt the robot's ears. Saying "English" and waiting for it to confirm that I said English is not faster or more convenient than hitting 1. It's not scary, but it's a computer, and I'm not going to pretend it's not.

Saying, "Open a command prompt," is in no way more convenient, faster, or easier than slamming the mouse to the lower left, clicking, and typing cmd.exe. Having it say, "OK, here's a command prompt," afterward would just be annoying.

Maybe I'm just not picturing the right use case.

Re:Annoying as hell (4, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297012)

Agreed; I can't stand the speech recognition on phone systems. For one thing, it universally sucks unless you're only using single words. (I recall calling .. Verizon was it? it: "So you're having a problem. Please tell me what kind of problem you're having." me: "Internet is not working". it: "Okay. Did you say 'Phone line repairs?' ")

For another, it negates the only advantage (from a consumer perspective) of touchtone menu systems - the ability to quickly navigate when you know your choice ahead of time; or even when you hear it spoken without having to wait for the full menu of options. It seems that most systems allow touchtone interrupt, but don't allow voice interrupt, so if I press "5" for technical support it's fine - but I can't say "technical support" without being forced to listen to all the options.

Re:Annoying as hell (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297088)

The first thing I do when a phone operator robot asks me to say "English" for English or "Espanol" for Espanol, I push all the buttons to see if I can get to a number-based menu, or at least hurt the robot's ears. Saying "English" and waiting for it to confirm that I said English is not faster or more convenient than hitting 1. It's not scary, but it's a computer, and I'm not going to pretend it's not.

Especially annoying to blind people! Could you imagine if it were possible to actually get the computer to do complex things with minimal effort by only using your voice!? Imagine if the computer could actually tell you what's going on with it's voice! The horror!

Saying, "Open a command prompt," is in no way more convenient, faster, or easier than slamming the mouse to the lower left, clicking, and typing cmd.exe. Having it say, "OK, here's a command prompt," afterward would just be annoying.

Maybe I'm just not picturing the right use case.

Indeed.

P.S. Vinux - Linux for visually impaired [vinux.org.uk] , Blinux - Blind + Linux discussion group [counterpunch.org] & LinuxSpeaks [joekamphaus.net]

See also: StarTrek TNG -- Talking to the computer midship instead of having to be at the damn terminal.

Re:Annoying as hell (1)

jewelises (739285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297146)

I think you're confusing speech recognition with natural language parsing. They are two different components. The reason natural language processing is powerful is the same reason the command line is powerful. With a GUI, you normally have to find your way through menus to get to a particular functionality. When there aren't many options to present or you aren't familiar with the system, this is a good interface. On the other hand, once you're familiar, a multitude of functionality is only a command away. (I have 4503 commands in $PATH.)

Once the speech recognition reaches a certain point you'll be able to call your bank and say something like "transfer $500 from checking to savings".

Anyway, here's the use case I picture: Anywhere in the house, I can say something in a normal voice, like "computer, what's the best way to stop a bloody nose?" or "computer, how long do i need to boil an egg?" or "computer, turn on the front-porch lights". Being able to interact with a phone in the same manner would be appropriate in some situations as well. Speech has the potential to be a great input device, especially when there isn't a keyboard handy. (Insert joke here about how none of us get far enough away from a keyboard for it to matter.)

Re:Annoying as hell (1)

keith_nt4 (612247) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297254)

[quote]Saying, "Open a command prompt," is in no way more convenient, faster, or easier than slamming the mouse to the lower left, clicking, and typing cmd.exe. Having it say, "OK, here's a command prompt," afterward would just be annoying[/quote]

I usually use Win+R [Enter]. But then I use cmd.exe an awful lot :-)

pets vs computers (2)

doogless (1863452) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296906)

People talk to their pets all the time, and although most pets have just as much of a chance of understanding what's being said as most computers, that doesn't strike people as odd.

Re:pets vs computers (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297162)

Computers do not bite you (yet) even if deeply annoyed by the way you act.

Closing in on the Singularity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296912)

If the dialogue flows like Lt. LaForge talking to the Enterprise, I'm all for it - but that would be for managing a complex system where it would be impossibly slow to manage anything from an interface like a keyboard or panel.

This gets very close to Kurzweil's idea, however, that someday a machine will be able to convince a person that it is thinking, even if it really isn't. Very quickly after this we drop off the Singularity precipice.

May not be practical (0)

Avirup (1723786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296914)

1) How will you play music in a machine, which is responding to voice?. If a song has a word "SHUTDOWN", the computer's microphone will respond to that and might power off the system :P 2) If anyone else is in the room where the machine is powered on, you need to think twice before talking with the other person. The microphone will interfere.

Re:May not be practical (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297026)

1) How will you play music in a machine, which is responding to voice?. If a song has a word "SHUTDOWN", the computer's microphone will respond to that and might power off the system :P

Definitely. That will put a damper on playing those old favorites like "Shutdown! In the name of love" and "Shutdown!" by [erm, actually a ton of artists made songs titled 'Stop'. Damn. Way to ruin a joke, thepowerofgrayskull. Would you just stop typing now before you make it worse?]

Re:May not be practical (1)

awshidahak (1282256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297062)

Give the machine a phrase it has to listen to first before responding to anything else, like how Apple Macs do.

Example: "Hey Computer: Launch Firefox" as opposed to "Launch Firefox."

Push to talk (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297110)

CB radios have long solved this: push to talk. Squeeze the mic when you want to give a voice command.

Re:May not be practical (1)

Graff (532189) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297196)

How will you play music in a machine, which is responding to voice?

Active filtering, the computer knows what's being output so just invert the waveform and apply to the input. It could use an inaudible marker to determine the proper audio to closely match the amplitude and timing. Even if it isn't exact it will still be good enough to reduce the feedback problems.

Anyways, the easier way to solve some of the problems is to require a keyword before a command. Make it something easy to say, recognizable, socially acceptable, and easily distinguishable and you're golden.

Re:May not be practical (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297270)

1) How will you play music in a machine, which is responding to voice?. If a song has a word "SHUTDOWN", the computer's microphone will respond to that and might power off the system

This is a solved problem, long long ago. If the computer is also playing the music it simply removes the music output stream from the sampling input stream (through whatever means the implementor chooses, be it simple acoustic subtraction or dynamic filtering).

Efficiency (2)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296916)

It seems to me that voice recognition is not the most efficient way to interact with a computer, especially when the user interface is well designed. For complicated tasks, and for interacting with computers where you may not have a normal desk or terminal, perhaps. As far as voice-to-text, if the recognition is accurate, it can possibly increase productivity depending on the person and their typing skills. On another not, however, this is a way for paralyzed individuals to interact with computers without the use of traditional means. However, using voice interaction in tandem with other means could be a more efficient route. Having a computer run commands in the background via voice commands while you interact with it in more traditional ways in the foreground.

Re:Efficiency (1)

nprz (1210658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297242)

More than speaking to a computer, I'd rather have it see what I'm looking at and read my mind if it should open an app or click on a button.
I could get a touch screen to minimize the overhead of moving a mouse across the screen, but there is still an overhead of moving my arm to touch the screen.

As far as typing, I don't mind doing it. I am also hoping our next generation will not having a problem typing relatively fast that voice-to-text doesn't offer any large benefit.
Also pointed out below is noise pollution, which would always be a problem with voice-to-text systems. It seems like I also need to talk louder than normal to have it clearly type what I am saying.

Politically correctness? (1, Redundant)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296918)

Do people just not like the idea of talking (without cursing) to a computer,

Why, would it be politically incorrect?

Teamspeak (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296920)

Speech recognition sucks and always will. I can hotkey my way to any program faster than I can say the name of it. Simply double clicking and icon is super easy. Why do I want to have to say "Computer! Open! Porn!!!" when I have a shortcut to all my porn on my desktop? it doesn't even make sense. And entering urls? It would take 10min just to get the url at the top of this article in.

On a related note: I fucking hate teamspeak. If I wanted to talk to you retarded assholes I'd call one of those party lines. Fuck that, I want to play a video game. I don't want to talk to people. For whatever rudimentary communication I need I can type.

Re:Teamspeak (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297228)

Does it? I almost never use the keyboard on my Vibrant to send text messages. I just speak into it and it does a surprisingly good job.

Now that I'm so used to doing speech to text, using a mouse or a little keyboard on my htpc is incredibly annoying. I really should be able to talk into my remote and say stuff like "play this video." Or navigate by just saying "down, down, play."

Speech for the PC could be similar. RIght now I'm doing this with my kinect, so we're halfway there.

Even scarier... (1)

Crazy Ike (1137979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296924)

It's only a matter of time before some corporation mines data from a nation full of ever-listening computers.

Like startrek, what.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296932)

Grew up on startrek, so of course computers that talk back are pretty much expected eventually for me

Someday (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35296946)

Someday speech will be an important input method. But not any time soon.

If you have to wear a microphone it isn't ready yet.

If you have to use a PTT switch it isn't ready yet.

If you have to repeat or cancel more than 1% of the things you say it isn't ready yet.

If you have to spend as much time proofreading dictation it has taken down and correcting the mistakes, it isn't ready yet.

If you have to speak in an unnatural way it isn't ready yet.

If it won't work in almost any environment it isn't ready yet.

Re:Someday (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297092)

If you have to repeat or cancel more than 1% of the things you say it isn't ready yet.

I agree with everything else you say, but humans do not actually get that low an error rate in conversations. Not much worse than humans is a good metric, though.

Re:Someday (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297232)

> I agree with everything else you say, but humans do not actually get that low an error rate in conversations.

Conversation and giving commands to a computer are different. Even at 1% it would require the computer to speak back and confirm almost every command. And unless it was spot on knowing when it is being addressed by, and by whom, you will need a PTT and headset. And unless it is able to listen accurately in almost any circumstance you still have to have the keyboard handy.

Right now I can be carrying on a conversation with a person in meatspace or on the phone and still use a computer via keyboard/mouse. For a speech interface to compete with that it would have to be smart enough to know when I'm talking to it. Even better, for a phone conversation, it should be able to edit out (or at least suppress a lot of dB) my conversation with it from the stream going to the other person.

Talking, I want it to Read-My-Mind (RMM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296950)

I already talk to my computer and it types what I say on the screen. Most of the time it hears and types very well. But I really want it to Read-My-Mind and know what I want to do next. Show me what I am looking for, help me find what I cannot remember, and give me suggestions. I would love a computer who laughed at my strange sense of humor and just agree with me most of the time. A really GREAT computer would be better than your best friend and always doing all it could to make your life more enjoyable.

Re:Talking, I want it to Read-My-Mind (RMM) (1)

Daevad (62067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297252)

A computer that can read your mind is a computer that can tell others (human and computer) what you are thinking. NO THANK YOU.

Is it un-natural? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296984)

Computer says 'no'.

Dragon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296990)

The people at Nuance (used to be ScanSoft/SpeechWorks/etc.) have been doing it for years. I'm sure most people on Slashdot have heard of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The newest version understands more commands than you probably care to use --stuff like "Open Firefox" ... "Send an email to Mike" ... you can browse the web by voice and control the mouse. Some people swear by it, but speech still doesn't seem like a natural computer interface. At least not yet. Nevertheless, the software is out there.

The Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35296992)

User: Open File.
Computer: Bite my shiny metal ass!

User: Delete file
Computer: Kill all Humans!

User: Eject disk.
Computer: Please insert Liquor!

Nonverbal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297002)

One of the reasons I use a computer is because I don't have to talk to it in order to tell it anything.

People talk too much. If you want to talk to your computer, fine. But I don't want to hear it.

Dreaming of electric sheep... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297006)

Do people just not like the idea of talking (without cursing) to a computer...?

I have a PC running Windows; cursing is unavoidable.
[I spend the rest of my time talking with my stuffed animals.]

Would anyone else be interested in building their own mini-Watson...?

Would a Mini-Watson [wikipedia.org] be small and wear a monocle?

voice commands are so.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297016)

"I was thinking to myself how much I would like to be able to even tell my computer to open programs by telling it vocally."

Well damn. What a shame you weren't using KDE a few years back. Kvoicecontrol worked quite well for me back then.

It reminds me about that old saying (0)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297020)

The one about talking to yourself. You don't have to worry about the guy who talks to himself. Worry about the guy who is arguing with himself, especially if he's losing. Same hold for talking to a computer.

More importantly (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297024)

If it can talk, and you smack it, what happens?

Re:More importantly (1)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297124)

It shuts up, unlike humans.

More Schizophrenic People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297040)

Nowadays schizophrenic people talking to themselves while walking or being on a train are everywhere thanks to bluetooth technology. Where is the funding for mental health clinics ?

The first place it needs to happen in mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297044)

If it's every truly going to gain acceptance on the desktop, it needs to just work for mobile. Once people get used to asking their phone for directions, or the weather, or whatever, that'll open the door to asking your desktop computer for things. And, yes, your phone can do some of this today, but it's still not quite natural speech.

Watson was fed text: No speech recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297056)

Watson was not able to understand any of the talking that was going on including the questions.
He repeated another contestants answer.

Yell "Format C ... Yes, Yes, Yes" at work... (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297074)

Only if the voice input was limited enough, like text input, which we have had for 10+ years, really. I can remember running a Speech to Text program on my 486 that would try to read what I was saying and turn that into a text document.

Google Voice does the same thing for voice mail.

Both suffer from a huge problem: accuracy. A conversation with a human doesn't need every word to be perfectly accurate, but something more than a text message is going to fail if some part of the vocal command is incorrect.

"Did you mean 'Delete *.txt' or 'Delete startdottxt' or 'Delete start.txt'?"

Issues (3, Insightful)

dcollins (135727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297078)

(a) Accuracy, (b) Efficiency, (c) Privacy, (d) Noise pollution.

Honesty (2)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297082)

It's creepy if the computer is trying to pass itself off as a person, because fakeness in social interactions is creepy whether it's a Wallmart greeter or a computer program being fake. If the computer is plainly just presenting itself as a voice interface it won't feel creepy for very long if at all.

Uncanny Valley (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297090)

Much like the animation of human features, there's an uncanny valley in communication that can provoke a strong xenophobic response. If someone or something can respond to *some* conversation but not all conversation, it tickles something deep in my brain that produces an instinctive reflex of distrust and hostility. Watching Watson, I found that the way the interaction was framed as if it was natural conversation put me into this uncomfortable zone where I found myself thinking "KILL IT WITH FIRE" more than once.

I Sometimes Wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297104)

if I was the only person paying attention at the start of those Jeopardy episodes. They stated clearly that the questions were fed to "Watson" as a plain text file. There was no speech recognition involved at all.

overcoming the creepy factor (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297120)

I think people find it "creepy" because they've never done it. If it was implemented well on most computers, people would get so accustomed and welcome to it that it would be a huge step back for them to go back to manual input.

Computer...computer? (4, Insightful)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297132)

I, of course, am now officially older than dirt. A couple of years ago, when I finally got my iPhone, I got the Google search app of course. I used it, it worked, I liked it. When I put the damned phone down, I thought, "If somebody had handed me this when I was fourteen I would have thought it was a phony Hollywood prop." That was when I decided that computers should only be addressed by means of picking up the mouse, pressing one of its buttons, and speaking clearly and distinctly into it in a fake Scottish accent.

AI the movie (1)

PaddyM (45763) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297148)

I thought the movie AI actually was pretty good at wondering about this very thought. If you haven't seen the movie, I thought it was very thought provoking on the idea about what the world might be like if computers ever became super advanced.

Re:AI the movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35297222)

You forgot to append 'and then the script writers couldn't think of an ending so they got high'.

Eventually, not now (1)

saikou (211301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297174)

There are voice actions already, but it takes so much more computational power to make it really-really fast, recognize any accent (which google is having a very hard time with right now) take context into account, and be able to intelligently ask user for clarification. So, I guess in about 5-10 years it will get to the point of Star Trek, where you can address computer and not worry about speech pattern or performing deletion of all files when you said "delay all files".

Generally voice interface is more efficient when we can't type/select something or when a short-hand is too difficult to program.
Examples -- car systems and hands-free phones ("Call John Smith at work"/"Navigate to 12th street" - until autopilot works flawlessly typing that stuff is difficult), directories, where saying a name would be faster than flipping though a large list without knowing how exactly it's spelled.

If you can type, it's faster to press control-o and click enter than say "Computer: open last used file" and get a confirmation. But if you don't know shortcuts and having difficulty with movement, speech recognition is already your only option.

For typing I'd rather prefer a neural short-hand: you don't bother family (or are forced to lock yourself in a soundproof room to dictate a large amount of text) and you eliminate the slowest part of your "think -> type -> text" route.

the phone based systems that use this suck and som (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297206)

the phone based systems that use this suck and some times you need to go nuts on it just to get a real person.

Going the wrong way pal (1)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297224)

Quantizing instructions into unambiguous, 100% clear communication is the pride and joy of the push-button. Vocal communication, especially natural language communication is fraught with ambiguity.

Think about it this way. Listen to your own conversations with humans for the next week. Count how many times you or your listener asks "say that again", "can you repeat that", "what do you mean by that". Then watch how many keystrokes you miss in the same week.

I'm cool with a button that launches a nuclear warhead. I'm really cool with a button behind a cover. And I'm super cool with a button behind glass and a hammer to break the glass. I'm frightenned if the button is voice-activated -- even if the cover and glass and hammer are voice activated too.

But think about the benefits of going the other way. If you could push a button to tell someone to do something. Wow. They'd call it text messaging.

Incidentally, welcome to written instructions -- which went typed for improved clarity and legibility. There's a reason that contracts are composed in text, and not in speech. Could you imagine a voice recording of a contract?

But there are plenty of voice-activated solutions to computer interaction. Dragon Naturally Speaking is one of the most reknowned. I used it in 1996, and it's become way better since. Use it for a week, and you'll discover that your own voice ins't anywhere near as efficient as ten fingers. And you'll find that you don't speak clearly at all -- and that your friends and family just guess what you're talking about, because it never really mattered before.

Think of all of the food you've ordered at restaurants, and the number of times the server mis-heard you, and brought the wrong something. Now remember that using a computer is about giving thousands of discrete commands in a given hour. Take the same percentage, and tell me how many times your computer is going to mis-hear you. That's how annoying it'll be.

Oh yeah. Background music makes that even worse.

Think about driving with voice commands -- turn how much left how quickly?

But you can easily simulate this. Get a friend. Have them use the computer, and you tell them what you want -- in commands that would be unambiguous if they heard you correctly. Try it for a full work day. See if they open the correct applications, hit the roght commands, and do the right stuff. You'll find that vocal communication is about conveying abstract thought and complex concepts, not directions nor instructions.

Which is why technical writing like operation manuals and really good recipe books are a very different kind of reading. And then you'll see the ikea picture/glyph instructions, which make even less sense.

Wrong Approach. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297240)

Voice recognition has taken the wrong approach from the beginning. The computer listens all the time, then tries to decipher a command in the middle of all kinds of stuff. That's unrealistic. If you gave it a name, an unusual name phonetically (Like "Esmerelda") and only had it follow a command after it heard it's name, then turn off again, then I think we could have working voice recognition RIGHT NOW. "Esmerelda, check my email" "You have 7 new messages". "Esmerelda, play music" Then poof Audacious opens up and plays some mp3s.

Can somebody build this app and put it in the Linux Mint repos please? Thanks in advance.

Philips dragon engine (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297256)

Back in the days (must be at least 10 years ago by now) I used the dragon engine from philips to control my pc. To be honest, it had a cool factor but got old soon. Not only was it quite inaccurate at the time, but I found it to be slow in comparison with just mouseclicks. Besides, at night when the family sleeps I don't want to be making to much sounds.

Computers (1)

jorgensonderrick (2002648) | more than 3 years ago | (#35297266)

is it possible to talk with an computer. I could not recognized
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