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How reliable are virtual assistants?

In the past few years, Voice assistants have been on the rise

Since the creation of Siri in October 2011, more types of assistants have been created. Alexa (Amazon), Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Google Assistant (Google), and Bixby (Samsung). These main voice assistants are widely used for many reasons. For some they are a speaker, others may use it as a way to remotely access their lights or tell the time. Despite the pros to why many use them, there are factors that have driven users away.

Does your personal voice assistant struggle to understand you?

A problem for a lot of people is a voice assistant understanding their accent. Even if you are from another country and speak fluent English your accent may not be understood to these assistants. Because of this apparently, 79% of people alter their voice so the assistant will understand them. For Apple, Siri has a few different dialects such as American, Australian, British, Indian, Irish, and South African. The Washington Post did a survey and found that Amazon and Google were 30% less likely to understand those with non-American accents. It would take a lot of time and resources to gather and categorize huge amounts of data from many languages in order to reduce the accent gap using traditional methods. A project named 1000 Words in 1000 Languages is being started by academics at MLCommons, a nonprofit organization connected to MLPerf, an industry-standard set of criteria for machine learning performance.

Are Voice Assistants worth it?

According to studies, Google Assistant is only around 64% accurate with Cortana dropping to 45%. For many people, it is very frustrating having to constantly repeat what was said all the time which makes it more time-consuming than time-saving. In spite of that, voice assistants are and have been on the rise since the creation of the modern-day assistant Siri (apple) in 2011. It is projected that there will be as many people as there are voice assistants (8 billion).

Do you feel your privacy is breached with technology?

To be able to respond to your commands there is a microphone built into these assistants. And unless turned off is always listening for the wake word such as “hey google” or “Alexa”. Because it is always able to hear you. People worry about their privacy and conversion data. On the internet, a number of people have complained that something strange is happening to their phones. They claim that what they say is being recorded using microphones on their devices in order to more accurately target tailored Google adverts on websites. According to a survey done in 2020, 82% of people were worried about being monitored, now we are in 2023 the number may have increased.

Even though Apple did not disclose the information, Apple contractors regularly hear confidential information as it is part of their job for providing quality control. Apple claims that “A small portion of Siri requests are analyzed to improve Siri and dictation. User requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri responses are analyzed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements.” But how much can we trust? And if this is true will voice assistants continue being popular? Google reportedly made the decision to cut back on the development of its Google Assistant. 18,000 jobs are expected to be cut for Google 2,000 of which are device and services units. Does this mean the fall of voice assistants? When Alexa was launched It was to help aid consumers purchase more products however the assistant is much more commonly used for simple tasks such as playing music or checking the weather.

To sum up, there are pros and cons to voice assistants, but ultimately it comes down to the user and their preferences. You may love your Alexa however your neighbor might hate their google assistant. Whether or not you use it every day or occasionally to check the time there is something for everyone to use which is why 37% of the US population is using the assistants and is constantly on the rise that percentage will increase in due time.

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