Voice applications and natural language are bigger than the kitchen.
by Bryan Knouse, 29 Oct 2018
Voice is the interface, not the application.
We are the first generation since the dawn of the spoken language to have more nonverbal conversations than spoken ones. We leverage language through our eyes more today than our mouths and ears. As a result, screens and keyboards have transformed nearly every aspect of the workplace and daily life…
…and then came Alexa.
Approaching human parity in natural language processing through digital electronics is an inflection point of our experience and communication with technology. As a “hard” technology, commercial realization is not quite there yet, but it’s close. However, this hasn’t stopped the public from going crazy over voice-user interface products.
The best-selling product on Amazon last year, on Amazon Prime Day, and this past holiday season? You got it — the Echo (Alexa) device. Amazon leads the smart speaker market with the Echo line, and has introduced video screens with the Echo Show. Microsoft, Google, Facebook and others have followed suit, offering their own line of voice-user interface products as well. Apple most recently released the Siri-powered HomePod. These products offer unique advantages in ease and efficiency that just aren’t possible with standard user interfaces.
Voice -natural language is the fundamental means of communication available to us.
Sure, these products make you look super cool when you have guests over — telling your house robot to change the channel — but there’s a problem with these snazzy new gizmos. . They just don’t seem to do much. This comes down to understanding a simple dichotomy: The application and the interface are two separate entities.
You may have heard the saying “we don’t need a quarter-inch drill bit; we need a quarter-inch hole.” The product we want is a helpful customer support experience, completed by interacting with a machine. We want to manage HR processes by working with the system. We want to draw insights and predict business expectations from data by asking logical questions. We want to build web applications by telling the machine what to create and how it should look. Natural language is the most effective interface for execution.
When chatting with the enterprise community, I might say, “voice will change your office” to a cascade of criticisms: “Do you really think people will sit around talking to their computers all day?” It’s not about the talking, it’s about the language you’re using for it.
Natural Language is Bigger Than Your Kitchen
There are quite a few new technology advancements in the digital space, but generally speaking, I see four big efforts right now — AR/VR, decentralization/crypto, natural language and more generalized AI (a fuzzy amalgam of neural networks and data science). Conversational technology is striking among its peers in its current capability and breadth of application. If we think about which of these has “crossed the chasm” to mainstream adoption, natural language technology is the most advanced in its developmental life cycle.
Natural language technology has been under development almost as long as the computer itself. Today, Alexa and the gang are everywhere — you can even talk to your microwave! The direction we are heading is inspiring, but one cannot help feeling that Alexa isn’t all that ‘smart’. (That goes for Google Home, Cortana and Siri as well.)
Despite the need for better intellect, we’re still able to communicate naturally with our machines. That sounds cool, with obvious implementations in hands-free situations, like cooking in the kitchen or operating a vehicle. With conversational tech, the kitchen is an obvious first implementation. However, it will neither be the most useful application or final form.
The strongest advantage of natural language is that we may continue to offload this translator labor to the machine. Between the two of us (the computer and the human), endeavors such as the translation of human idea into code is moving further and further into the domain of the computer; the machine is becoming more responsible for the work everyday. And we are released more to simply tell the machine what to do. Similarly with programming languages, each newer and simpler language is a further abstraction out from machine code and thus easier and faster to leverage as a tool. Until something like a neural lace becomes possible, the furthest abstraction and most fundamental interface there can be is natural human language. In the process of doing this, our experience with technology is becoming less brittle, less prone to minute errors causing major fractures. This is the result of many things such as scalable infrastructure, more powerful computation and stronger interconnectivity. This growth has inspired software and technology that is beginning to feel malleable — much like language itself.
This pioneering change in how we leverage computers will be profound. Today we’re in the kitchen. Tomorrow; data analytics, web development, management, and customer experience. Beyond that — who knows? Alexa certainly doesn’t. As long as we continue to develop the most natural interface available to the human-machine duo, the number and impact of applications made possible will flourish. Even the ones that make us cringe.
Bryan is a software developer and entrepreneur based in New York City. Over the last several years, he has focused on natural language technology as a means to improve the speed and simplicity of enterprise software and data analytics. Want to talk software, data, or natural language technology? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more?Contact us!
Get updates; just enter your email below. Simple as that.
- The Top Three Tips to Make You King of the SERP This Black Friday and Cyber Monday
- Are you ready for Amazon advertising?
- Experts Roundtable: See What DRUM’s Specialists Recommend for Your Giving Tuesday Strategy
- What’s missing in your Giving Tuesday strategy? A convo with DRUM’s eCRM expert.
- Mythbusting your Social Strategy for 2020: Our Social Expert Weighs in
Experts Roundtable: See What DRUM’s Specialists Recommend for Your Giving Tuesday Strategy
by DRUM, 06 Nov 2019
What’s missing in your Giving Tuesday strategy? A convo with DRUM’s eCRM expert.
by Kelley Coram, 06 Nov 2019
Mythbusting your Social Strategy for 2020: Our Social Expert Weighs in
by Megan Marks, 06 Nov 2019
5 Impactful Web Design Practices for Landing Pages in 2019
by Joshua McKnight, 25 Jun 2019
Why Brands Need to Focus on Propensity, Not Personas
by Jonathan Zajicek, 19 Jun 2019
Why Video Scalability Should Be A Top Priority For Your Content Budget
by Michael Cruz, 28 May 2019
How to Get Your Brand to Produce More Content
by Michael Cruz, 15 May 2019
Silo Focus May Cost Brands Millions
by George Wiedemann, 13 May 2019
Personalized Video Connects You to Customers
by Rosann Bartle, 30 Apr 2019
AI Generated Content : Fast & Affordable Comes at a Cost
by Steve Steger, 18 Mar 2019
3 Lesser Known Ways to Leverage Video
by Lyndsay Hoff, 18 Mar 2019
When People Start To Get Wealthy Today, What Do They Want From Banks?
by Ben Heiser, 04 Mar 2019
Content Tells. Direct Sells.
by Rosann Bartle, 21 Feb 2019
Behind the Click: Five Cognitive Biases That Drive Action
by Michelle Gunn, PhD, 12 Feb 2019
The Real Game: Google vs. Microsoft
by Jana Ferguson, 05 Feb 2019
Did the Super Bowl Ads Live Up to the Hype?
by Steve Steger, 05 Feb 2019
Super Bowl Quick Takes
by Lesley Goldberg, 05 Feb 2019
Ten Emails I’m Glad I Didn't Have to Read Last Month
by Stephen Steger, 28 Jan 2019
The Top Three Tips to Make You King of the SERP This Black Friday and Cyber Monday
by Margaret Davis, 20 Nov 2018
Are you ready for Amazon advertising?
by Debra Wang, 25 Oct 2018
Even Mighty Amazon Can’t Deliver on Grocery Delivery
by David Randolph, 15 Aug 2018
Google’s ready for Its face-lift
by DRUM Media, 25 Jul 2018
Why it’s important to invest in non-branded paid search
by Kelsey Chadwick, 27 Jun 2018
Why paid search should be your go-to media
by Katherine Jianas, 18 Jun 2018
Why Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal makes me thrilled for the future of content marketing
by Ben Heiser, 21 May 2018
YouTube for Nonprofits
by Virginia Doty, 15 May 2018
Takeaways from MarTech 2018
by Michael Cruz, Chief Content Officer, 15 May 2018
Which do your consumers prefer? Inbox or Mailbox? (Infographic)
by DRUM, 14 May 2018
Get smart with Google smart bidding
by Hailee Sosnowski, 27 Apr 2018
The amazing power of personalization
by DRUM, 19 Apr 2018
Beyond once upon a time: dialogue and the art of storytelling 2.0
by Michelle Gunn, PhD, VP/Creative Director, 17 Apr 2018
SEM 101 for Nonprofits
by Jay Reyes & Chase Bender, 12 Apr 2018
How to inspire workplace creativity
by Stephen Steger, 03 Apr 2018
Local SEO for brands and franchises: Top 3 tips from 15 SEO experts
by Greg Lee, 02 Apr 2018
Next steps for advertisers after the Cambridge Analytica Facebook breach
by Traci Hendrix, 26 Mar 2018
Are you ready for the GDPR? A guide for advertising agencies
by Jerelle Gainey and Debra Wang, 15 Mar 2018
Q&A: Experts dish on the future of paid search
by Chelsea Huston, 06 Mar 2018
Why content moments are the key to understanding content marketing
by Ben Heiser, 28 Feb 2018
Why bad advertising is a form of bad manners: lessons from a Ugandan storefront
by Scott Johnson, 20 Feb 2018
Retailers and the lower funnel trap
by David Randolph, 06 Feb 2018
What’s the body language of your content really saying?
by Zoë Courtman-Smith, 31 Jan 2018
10 things to look for in enterprise SEO software: 2018 tool review
by Greg Lee, 30 Jan 2018
The top 3 PPC marketing search engines of 2018
by Debra Wang and Vladimir Bradic, 26 Jan 2018
How new changes to Google Grant will affect your nonprofit
by Shelby Huckeba, 19 Jan 2018
Latest Giving Tuesday campaign ideas from marketing-minded nonprofits
by Adam Binkley, Jay Reyes and Ruby Wustrak, 18 Jan 2018
State of Social in 2018
by Ashley Reed, 17 Jan 2018
Top 7 posts of 2017
by Jamie Wigington, 17 Jan 2018
How should SEM experts prepare for voice search? [INFOGRAPHIC]
by DRUM, 17 Jan 2018
7 Digital trends that will change how you market in 2018
by DRUM Media, 17 Jan 2018
What advertisers need to know about Apple's intelligent tracking prevention
by Jerelle Gainey, 06 Oct 2017
Using direct mail to reactivate online customers
by Rosann Bartle, 22 Sep 2017
Bing shop ‘til you drop
by Hailee Sosnowski, 14 Aug 2017
Finding a web design process that works
by Todd Chambers, 02 Aug 2017
3 Commandments for creating incredibly engaging content
by Ben Heiser, 02 Aug 2017
Twitter ads and targeting techniques that work
by Annie Green, 27 Jul 2017
5 benefits of paid social advertising
by Karina Khemani, 14 Jul 2017
Oh snap! Snapchat just upped their ad game
by Traci Hendrix, 12 Jul 2017
Dying is easy, comedy is hard
by Scott Johnson, 10 Jul 2017
Marketing and the meteor test
by Scott Johnson, 05 Jul 2017
The value of local SEO (Even when your customers aren't)
by Gregory Lee, 23 Jun 2017
The best Facebook ad types and targeting options for driving sales
by Annie Green, 15 Jun 2017
Linking online marketing to offline consumer behavior
by Heather Roach, 08 Jun 2017
To push a nonprofit's mission, you have to push with passion
by Nicole Bendel, 05 Jun 2017
7 ways B2B marketers can find success in social media
by Traci Hendrix, 31 May 2017
Google’s data-driven attribution: what you need to know
by Kimberly Honore, 23 May 2017
The skinny on Yahoo's native search retargeting feature
by Shelby Huckeba, 15 May 2017
Why you should always include brand search in your digital strategy
by Katherine Jianas, 04 May 2017
How to use content marketing to finally unify marketing strategies
by Gregory Lee, 16 Apr 2017
5 things we learned at Google’s “Search in 2017 & Beyond” event
by Kimberly Honore, 05 Apr 2017
To sell to the ego, you gotta talk to the id.
by Zoe Courtman-Smith, 04 Apr 2017
Social listening inspires smarter business strategies
by Alicia Trahan, 03 Apr 2017
Brand safety: how programmatic partners protect our clients' brands
by Brittany Altman, 31 Mar 2017
How inactive subscribers can affect deliverability
by Billy McNair, 27 Mar 2017
5 reasons to insist on 1st party data for CRM targeting
by Samantha Halpin, 22 Mar 2017
Conversation, not content, is king
by Scott Johnson, 15 Mar 2017