Hey, A.I. Let’s Talk

A pair of glasses from Meta shoots a picture when you say, “Hey, Meta, take a photo.” A miniature computer that clips to your shirt, the Ai Pin, translates foreign languages into your native tongue. An artificially intelligent screen features a virtual assistant that you talk to through a microphone.

Last year, OpenAI updated its ChatGPT chatbot to respond with spoken words, and recently, Google introduced Gemini, a replacement for its voice assistant on Android phones.

Tech companies are betting on a renaissance for voice assistants, many years after most people decided that talking to computers was uncool.

Will it work this time? Maybe, but it could take a while.

Large swaths of people have still never used voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, and the overwhelming majority of those who do said they never wanted to be seen talking to them in public, according to studies done in the last decade.

I, too, seldom use voice assistants, and in my recent experiment with Meta’s glasses, which include a camera and speakers to provide information about your surroundings, I concluded that talking to a computer in front of parents and their children at a zoo was still staggeringly awkward.

It made me wonder if this would ever feel normal. Not long ago, talking on the phone with Bluetooth headsets made people look batty, but now everyone does it. Will we ever see lots of people walking around and talking to their computers as in sci-fi movies?

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