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Technology and society

Chhavi Sachdev
Podcaster and Independent Radio Producer/Reporter
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piqer: Chhavi Sachdev
Thursday, 04 April 2019

Designing A Conversation For AI

I recently learned that a major news outlet is trying to make their reporting on India's upcoming election interactively accessible via a conversation with Siri or Alexa or Google Home. Downloading a full podcast episode may well become a thing of the past when it comes to "hearing" news, but how does it work? And what are the challenges?

In this episode, host Khoi talks to voice interaction designers Katie Briggs, who works on voice design at NPR (their podcast Wait! Wait! Don't tell me! now has interactive episodes for smart speakers!) and Will Hall, chief creative officer at RAIN, an agency focused on voice.

Voice UX design is a pretty new area and people are still learning how to really anticipate what people will say or do given a conversational mode of accessing information. Guest Will Hall says so far people are very limited in what they ask of smart voice assistants (weather, music, arcane facts, generally) and changing this is the job of a Voice UX designer. Compounding this is the fact that, as Hall notes, every user is "a focus group of one" because nobody thinks or talks the same way. 

It's a really interesting, very quick episode, that will make you think about how ease of use matters and is going to change, for sure.  

On a side note, I thought it was interesting that, as Hall points out, millennials approach even voice assistants with an apology (as if disturbing them), while Briggs noted that younger people acknowledge them as if they were sentient beings, for instance by saying "hi" to them when entering a room.

Designing A Conversation For AI
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