Social media algorithms, artificial intelligence and our own genetics are among the factors influencing us beyond our awareness. This raises an ancient question: do we have control over our own lives? This article is part of The Conversation's series on the science of free will. Have you ever used Google Assistant, Apple's Siri or Amazon Alexa to make decisions for you? Perhaps you asked it what new movies have good reviews, or to recommend a cool restaurant in your neighbourhood.
Google's Nest Hub video displays are getting a new look today, adding more recommendation features to help people with their day. Most use cases for the display units revolve around people using them to play music via voice commands or operate their smart home. Google execs say they wanted to showcase different things people could do by showcasing them in discovery, and to offer more personalized recommendations on music to listen to, videos to watch and news to read. Beyond the Google Nest Hub and Hub Max, the Google Assistant lives on other displays made by others, including the Lenovo Smart Display. The display units had always had a "Your Day" feature which showed you scheduled appointments and the like in the morning.
In 2016 and 2017, Andrea Silenzi hosted and produced the hit dating podcast Why Oh Why, with the mission to chronicle her hilarious, maddening, and sometimes disastrous expedition into online dating. For guy listeners like me, it was also a window into what single women had to put up with when they were looking for love (or even just a decent date) on the internet. Her excruciatingly detailed exploration of how men and women approach digital courtship led Vulture to dub her "a genius of the cringe." After the show went on hiatus, Silenzi continued to post about the horrors of online dating on her Instagram account, a lifeline for fans who missed the show. But then this week, something else appeared on the account: She posted a very sweet engagement story, announcing her impending nuptials to a man reportedly from Hinge. Who will post screenshots of men saying things like, "Yeah i got the cure for coronavirus! I called Silenzi to ask.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is creeping into our everyday lives, often without us realizing it. Today, AI can be found in the digital assistants we use such as Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri and Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Alexa to check our schedules and search for things on the internet; in the cars we own that now park themselves as they are able to recognize space around the vehicle; and in the small robots we use to clean our houses, such as the Roomba vacuum. Artificial intelligence is becoming more a part of our lives all the time, and will only grow in importance in coming years. In the not too distant future, AI will influence everything from how we shop for groceries to how diseases are diagnosed and treated by doctors. It all adds up to a fast growing market.
You might not have to depend on Google Podcasts if you're asking Assistant to play your favorite serialized audio show. Android Police and its readers have discovered that Google is adding support for third-party podcast services, starting with Spotify. You just have to visit podcast settings in Assistant to choose your provider. We've asked Google if it can comment on the feature's rollout. AP's writer had trouble getting it to work, though it may be due to regional issues.
The smart assistants sold by big tech companies have a sexism problem. Their names and voices are default female, their answers to questions have sometimes excluded information that's relevant to women, and -- especially in the early days -- they answered provocative or abusive queries with cheeky responses like "I'd blush if I could." Companies have addressed these criticisms (including from the U.N.) in some ways: You can make Siri's voice male, and Alexa now shuts down sexually suggestive or harassing queries with answers like "I'm not going to respond to that"; previously, Alexa said "Thank you." In a new book published this September by the MIT Press called The Smart Wife: Why Siri, Alexa, and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist Reboot, two researchers chart the ways that AI, robots, and other digital devices have been assigned -- and play -- the roles that were typically the realm of the 1950s housewife (or at least what people imagined her to be). Meet the Smart Wife: she handles housework, cares for family members, and provides companionship (and even sometimes sex).
Voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri will become common in children's bedrooms, according to a new report from Internet Matters, the online safety body, which says it is critical for parents to spend more time understanding new technology. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technology at home by "three or four years", the researchers said, and families in the UK will become much more reliant on voice-enabled devices over the next five years. The report's author, Lynne Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Sunderland, said we would even see the emergence of a range of celebrity voice assistants. "You'd have Elsa from Frozen," Hall said. "You can imagine that with every Disney film that came out there would be a new voice skin."
TL;DR: Keep an eye on your home at all times with a blurams Outdoor Pro security camera outdoor system for $59.99, a 33% savings as of Oct. 18. Do you want to make sure your package was really delivered when it was supposed to be? How about keeping tabs on the mystery animal that keeps leaving "surprises" on your front porch? Now you can see it all with this blurams Outdoor pro security camera system designed for outside your home. You should never be chill about your home's security.
Google promised an Assistant driving mode for phones would arrive in mid-2019, but that clearly didn't happen -- over a year passed without any sign of it. It appears to be ready, though. XDA-Developers has discovered (via Android Police) that Google Assistant's driving mode is at least partially enabled for Android users. The interface has changed considerably from the I/O 2019 demo you see above, but the concept remains the same with large buttons and text that let you chat, message and play music while keeping your driving distractions to a minimum. The rollout appears to be server-side, and might be part of a test.
Have you ever watched a video or movie because YouTube or Netflix recommended it to you? Or added a friend on Facebook from the list of "people you may know"? And how does Twitter decide which tweets to show you at the top of your feed? These platforms are driven by algorithms, which rank and recommend content for us based on our data. If you want to know when social media companies are trying to manipulate you into disclosing information or engaging more, the answer is always.