Because the complex of AI tools and human review exists in this feedback loop, the stakes only get higher as companies improve voice assistants, asking us to embed them deeper into daily life. Amazon has patented technology that would allow its speakers to assess users’ emotional states and adjust their responses accordingly. Google filed a patent that would enable its speakers to respond to the sounds of users brushing their teeth and eating. Voice assistants are already being tested in police stations, classrooms, and hospitals.
The effect is that our tools will know more and more about us as we know less and less about them. In a recent article for The New Yorker on the risks of automation, the Harvard professor Jonathan Zittrain coined the phrase intellectual debt: the phenomenon by which we readily accept new technology into our lives, only bothering to learn how it works after the fact. Essentially, buy first, ask questions later. This is the second feedback loop grinding onward alongside the first, a sort of automation-procrastination complex. As voice assistants become an integral part of health care and law enforcement, we accrue more intellectual debt in more aspects of life. As technology gets smarter, we will know less about it.People Are Starting to Realize How Voice Assistants Actually Work