TLDR: The voice interface is the future of news and media

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By Nieman Lab (these highlights provided for you by Annotote)

The future of news is humans talking to machines #voice interface #no UI #end-to-end audio

AI-driven voice interfaces, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home and Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s upcoming HomePod [are] potentially bigger than the impact of the iPhone. In fact, I’d describe these smart speakers and the associated AI and machine learning that they’ll interface with as the huge burning platform the news industry doesn’t even know it’s standing on.

Voice is the next big threat for journalism.

20 percent of all Google search was now happening through voice rather than typing.

We’re treating voice as the third wave of technology, following the point-and-click of PCs and touch interface of smartphones

I think we’re at the early stages of what I’d call ambient computing — technology that reduces the ‘friction’ between what we want and actually getting it in terms of our digital activity … we’ll spend less time being distracted by technology, as it effectively recedes into the background

Publishers like the Post that produce little or no native audio content have to work out the right way of presenting their text-based content on a voice-driven platform. One option is to allow Alexa to read stories that have been published; that’s easy to scale up. The other is getting journalists to voice articles or columns or create native audio for the platform. That’s much more difficult to scale, but several news organizations told me initial audience feedback suggests this is users’ preferred experience.

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What’s surprised many news organizations is how broad the age range of their audiences are on smart speakers … The fact there’s very little learning curve to use them means the technical bar is much lower. Speaking to the device is intuitive.
#human interface #early adopters

Music was unsurprisingly at the top of the reasons why they use these devices, but coming in second was to “ask questions without needing to type.” Also high up was an interest to listen to news and information — encouraging for news organizations.

the biggest issue that comes up repeatedly is discovery: How do users get to find the content, either as a skill or app, that’s available to them?

At the moment, the industry is tagging content with standardized subjects, people, organizations, geographic locations and dates, but this can be taken to the next level by finding relationships between each tag. For example, AP developed a robust tagging system called AP Metadata which is designed to organically evolve with a news story as it moves through related news cycles [to deliver semantic, contextual curation].

rather than just hearing a podcast or news bulletin, a user could have a conversation with a news brand

there is one thing I find incredibly exciting: the transformative impact voice AI technology could have in emerging markets and the developing world. Over the next three or four years, a billion people — often termed “the next billion” — will connect to the internet for the first time in their lives. But just having a phone with an internet connection itself isn’t going to be that useful — as they will have no experience of knowing how to navigate a website, use search or any of the online services we take for granted in the west. What could be genuinely transformative though is if they are greeted with a voice-led assistant speaking to them in their language

users develop an emotional connection with these devices very quickly — in a way that just doesn’t happen with a phone, tablet, radio or TV. Users report feeling less lonely and seem to develop a similar emotional connection to these devices as having a pet. This tendency for people to attribute human characteristics to a computer or machine has some history to it, with its own term — the ‘Eliza effect’
#anthropomorphism #animism

There is an AI industry body called Partnership on AI which is making real progress in discussing issues around ethics and standardisation of AI technology, among other areas. Its members include Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and a host of other think tanks and tech companies. There’s no news or media industry representation

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TLDR: The voice interface is the future of news and media was originally published in Annotote TLDR on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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