I don’t have the new iPhone, so I haven’t personally experienced Siri. But from what I read, she can be pretty hilarious, much like iPhone’s autocorrect. Which made me think: Is high-tech always the best solution?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my iPhone 4, although the autocorrect is often perplexing. Why would I want to type “u’s” instead of “us”? I don’t know either, but that’s what my iPhone thinks. I tried using the Voice Command feature, but it requires you to say things in a very specific way. I never got around to learning the lingo.
I also appreciate how technology can simplify certain tasks or improve accessibility. When my father became too arthritic to type anymore, he relied on voice recognition software to keep writing. But it was always riddled with mistakes.
In my work, I frequently have my recorded interviews typed out by human transcriptionists. There was a time when I thought I’d be able to save that expense by using voice recognition software instead. But the technology isn’t there yet. Many programs have to be adjusted to the speaker, so good luck adapting it to multiple voices and accents.
What’s more, I’m not sure I will ever want to replace a human with a machine. If my transcriptionist can’t understand a word, she puts it in red so I know she’s unsure. That way, I’ll know to question whether a source said “maniac” or “cardiac.” I’m sure some technology will flag that for you, but I still think a human can be more discerning.
Maybe that’s the biggest reason of all why I don’t see myself going all-automated any time soon. I like hiring people who deliver a service I need. They make my life easier. I help them make a living. And we make human connections I could never make with a machine.