#Voicefirst Ecosystem and Cambridge Analytica

Cambridge Analytica’s actions are an issue for the #voicefirst ecosystem. An issue on which taking a clear stance today will help improve adoption and security tomorrow.

Voice is far more engaging and, therefore, intrusive than social media in the influence it can exert. The voicefirst ecosystem needs digital assistants to be travel with us. They need not just fulfill our needs, but to anticipate them. This mean the use of #AIs on data about You. The #voicefirst ecosystem is becoming the most interconnected and data reliant system available to the everyday consumer. This is both the boon and the bane of #voicefirst – powerful information, and in the wrong hands a great tool of destruction.

The Cambridge Analytica fiasco reveals some truths of the world we live. Some truths that need to be confronted head on by #voicefirst practitioners.

Corporations care most about profit

Powerholders such as corporations will use all available means to hold onto power and increase their influence. That Facebook would play party or be complicit is to be expected. There will be others who follow suit. Customer focus and stickiness are only important as long as they are sub-servant to the profit motive – it is harder to acquire new customer than to keep the old ones. Expect this as the norm from corporations.

Solutions:  Bake consumer protection into #voicefirst DNA

No one says your startup cannot or should not legally bake consumer protection into it’s DNA and processes. One such form – B-corps, are available that make all stakeholders the focus before shareholder profit.

Politicians care about winning

While, Obama mining Facebook data to influence elections in 2012 was not illegal at the time, even he, who looks, acts and behaves as the finest of gentlemen, is not below using any means to win, even it means breaching his own voters trust. This is not a one-off case – expect similar behavior by your favorite political party – especially when politics is run by slogans, rhetoric, gerrymandering, and two minutes snippets rather than issues.

Solutions: Use #voicefirst to promote trusted sources

Don’t expect real news from social media (or for that matter, MSM). Find trusted sources online – some like Michael Moore and Jimmy Dore have taken on the system by creating programs that highlight real issues using the same platforms that politicians are using to influence. Some other sources I follow include, TheRealNews and The Intercept. Please share in the comments below any other news show that YOU trust.

Finally, as a #voicefirst technologist and entrepreneur, I see the opportunity to build #voicefirst feedback mechanism that allow users to pose questions around dubious issues, call out fake news and have conversations with each other – kind of like the comment section – but using voice.

Corporations have a poor history of safeguarding user data – this is built into the system

Corporations have a poor history of safeguarding user data – software development is iterative in nature, and it is impossible and impractical to launch “fully” secure software solutions. Infact, it is impossible to create a fully secure system exists. The nature of #voicefirst means that unscrupulous elements will always try to hack, meddle and break into the system.

Solutions: Layer your #voicefirst security

Expect data breaches and build layers of security. This applies to #voicefirst systems in more ways than one. Security and privacy include the ability to identify users in a room and only divulge targeted information. It includes identifying duress by understanding tone and stress. It also includes defining liability when events do happen.

Google and Amazon are not the only #voicefirst players

Mycroft AI is not the only opensource #Voicefirst system, but definitely the one looking ready for consumer sue. While most of the opensource systems are limited in functionality they hint at what consumer really want – a system as polished and refined as what Amazon and Google are trying to build, but with MY data secured and locked in a private cloud at my own premises. Are we likely to see this soon? No – the computational engines aren’t there yet and opensource is too clunky for the average user. But if it was available and worked, would I pay extra for this. Yes!

I believe the #voicefirst ecosystem is going to take over the world. These critical questions can be tackled now, with narratives having heroes and champions, or can be left to tomorrow, with narratives having villains and misguided souls (i.e. the Zuckerbergs of #voicefirst). I want to believe in heroes.



PullString Converse: Understanding the #VoiceFirst Ecosystem

Continuing our discussion about #VoiceFirst, we shift from PullString Converse  to the trends impacting the larger ecosystem:

Michael Fitzpatrick

Just as mobile and touch interfaces powered the past decade of innovation around customer engagement, we believe that voice and AI will power the next ten years.

VoiceStrategist: How do you see the digital assistant and voicefirst ecosystem evolving?

Michael: Just as mobile and touch interfaces powered the past decade of innovation around customer engagement, we believe that voice and AI will power the next ten years.  I expect the majority of consumers to become familiar and comfortable with digital assistants through voice-enabled speakers and mobile devices over the next few years. Beyond that, I believe we’ll see digital assistants become a fundamental part of the way in which we interact with the technology around us.

VoiceStrategist: What are your thoughts on AI – especially, fears around job loss and AI being too “powerful”?

Michael: It’s undeniable that AI has the potential to remove the need for human effort in many job categories.  There are already examples of use cases where it significantly outperforms humans capabilities. The challenge in front of us is what do we do with some of this new found freedom.  If technology is able to improve our businesses and life quality, what are we to do with all this new-found freedom and time?  Answering this question seems to be on a lot of people’s minds these days, and I’m not sure society is evolving at the same rate as the technology is.

VoiceStrategist: What is the relationship around voice and AI?

Michael: In order for humans to be able to converse with technology, a computer needs to be able to understand speech, including the words said, their intent and context, and then surface the correct response back to the user. Machine learning and AI platforms enable these interactions today, and will continue to improve over time to begin to provide even more sophisticated generative dialogue back to humans.

VoiceStrategist: What are your thoughts on VR, AR and Holograms? How do you them integrating with voicefirst?

Michael: It is still early days for these technology platforms, but we believe voice will become a standard interface across VR, AR, Hologram, Mobile, Television, and IoT devices in a connected home.  Our software is already in use to support Hello Barbie Hologram, as one example.

If you missed the PullString Converse story and evolution, you can find it here. We would like to thank Michael for his time and his thoughts.

Does Voice spell trouble for retailers and brands?

Came across this great article search –

Mark Ritson: Voice search spells trouble for both brands and retailers

Mark is spot on:

  1. the vast majority of the brands we buy in our lifetime qualify as low-involvement purchases
  2. add the dangerous, disruptive ingredient of voice search and things change

Having said this, how things change depends on what actions retailers take today to shape their tomorrow. Another industry that faced similar challenges was the news publishing industry. It bought the tech companies coolaid, it opened it’s bread and butter – it’s content – to the likes of Google. It turned from a business monetized through subscriptions to one running on ads. And now it is bleeding to a slow death.

Retailers face a choice – the choice of how to embrace voice technology. Retailers have to understand what brings users to their store – and enhance the experience customers want with voice technology. Retailers have one advantage over the likes of Amazon and Google. They have personalized, localized, and targeted shopping data.

While it is not an easy road, it is an exciting one – one that will bring new players, products and strategies and reshape the industry.