The synthetic voice and almost robotic speech that comes out of your voice activated assistant aren’t fooling anyone. The man or woman (depending on your settings) that speaks is an emotionless machine. But things may be changing in the near future…
“Alexa, did my favourite team win?”
For the last few weeks, Amazon’s voice activated assistant’s response to this question in some US households has sounded quite different.
In early December, Jeff Bezos’ company added a new function to Alexa:
Emotions and Speaking Styles allows your voice activated assistant to respond in two modes, with three intensity levels: the first “happy/excited” and a second “disappointed/empathetic”. As a result, if your bike ride isn’t cancelled despite the weather, or if your favourite team has lost its match, Alexa will adapt to empathise with you.
What if voice activated assistants could read our emotions?
That’s tomorrow’s big challenge: to determine accurately whether we are happy, angry or just upset, in order to understand us better…and perhaps sell us the products or services we need.
Here we are talking about artificial empathy or artificial emotional intelligence. This is a scope of application that relies on artificial intelligence and is one that call centres are starting to integrate. American start-up COGITO has developed a voice analysis tool that helps call centre employees in real time. If the speaker shows signs of impatience or, on the contrary, a positive intonation in his voice, the voice activated assistant detects this and sends instructions to the employee to help with the interaction.
So will we all be manipulated in the future?
Of course not. Firstly, advances in voice assistant technology can also be used in areas such as health, diplomacy, and international exchange. They will help people who are geographically and culturally removed to understand each other better. Secondly, emotional intelligence computing is currently in its early stages. Its future use will no doubt be framed by ethical safeguards to prevent its abuse. Until then you can talk to your voice activated assistant without fear!
The Main Think
Is Voice Commerce at a turning point? This is the question we can ask ourselves with the development of emotional empathy in voice activated assistants. By the sound of our voice alone, they will be able to determine our mood and adapt to it. Leading to better understanding…or a more effective lever to increase sales.