DTNS 3278 – Google, Please

We break down the announcements from this years action packed Google I/O, and cover everything from AI developments and roll-outs to new Android features and updates to News, Maps and Waymo!

Starring Tom Merritt, Sarah Lane, Roger Chang and Patrick Beja.

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One thought on “DTNS 3278 – Google, Please”

  1. About the optional ‘pretty please’ setting, soon to be made available, that makes Google’s voice assistent reward saying ‘please’ and so on with positive reinforcement.

    I had the same reaction as Roger: there’s something really weird about that.

    We all agree that children must learn the value of being civilized & polite. To be civilized & polite expresses that you are aware of the other person’s feelings.

    Well, the computer is not a person: it is a machine, it has no feelings. The children *know* the computer has no feelings. For a computer to step into the realm of human feeling is fake.

    I rather expect that children that are exposed to such a patronizing voice assistent will develop a resentment against being civilized & polite.

    Arguably, this is a case of unintended consequences.

    When children use a keyboard and mouse to operate a computer this issue does not exist. If a child has a tantrum and he throws the keyboard across the room there is an instant price to pay; he’ll have to buy a new keyboard.

    But when a child talks to a voice assistent in a way that would be abusive when it would be directed to a human, the voice assistent obeys. Suddenly, with this new form of accessing the computer, parents see their child being rude, without any consequences.

    There is no repairing that. Parents who want to prevent this from happening must stop giving their children access to a computer voice assistent. The setting called ‘pretty please’ does not solve the problem: it makes it worse.

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