Voice Assisted Technology: Food For Thought

“Hey Siri, what is the weather report for today?”

“Hey Siri, what time is my dental appointment?”

“Hey Siri, where is my car?”


“Answer me, Siri!”

Assisted Technology is so ingrained in our lives today, that to function without it would be nearly impossible — like missing a super helpful friend.

Think about it. Could you even imagine a world where Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant or Cortana doesn’t exist? No, I didn’t think so.

The reason though, for our affinity towards and reliance upon these virtual assistants, is because they offer us great opportunities that we now cannot live without.

What Opportunities Does Voice Assisted Technology Offer Us?

To put it simply, voice assisted technology makes life simpler — at least once you figure out how to use it — because it is almost always at our beck-and-call.

No longer is there need for us to haul out that tome of a dictionary; instead, we simply need to pull out our phone or other device, and say “Hey Siri, what does technoference mean?”

Or, while driving, we ask Siri where the nearest petrol station is — rather than look it up ourselves — so not to compromise the safety of others around us.

Today, however, it is not just us as parents, guardians or carers who are the ones using these virtual assistants. It’s our children too.

Will Gardner, the CEO of Childnet International, even says, “From providing information, advice and help, to being a source of entertainment, [voice assisted technology] is becoming an increasing present feature in children and young people’s lives.”

In fact, statistics from Childnet indicate 92% of young people use voice assisted technology to find information and 73% use it to get advice or help.

Is Voice Assisted Technology All Positive?

With everything in the world, there is always a downside. And that’s because nothing is perfect — no matter how badly we want it to be.

For voice assisted technology, the downside relates to data; but more specifically, the data pertaining to requests and directions given to voice assisted devices.

Digital assistants record the tasks they are asked to complete, so they can store a bank of common requests on a server to optimise their capacity to perform more efficiently.

But does anyone actually know what then happens to this data? Does it get sold off for third party usage? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves; especially considering how regularly artificial intelligences (AIs) — within voice assisted devices — are listening to what we say.

Dr Jun Zhao, a computer scientist and senior research fellow from the University of Oxford, says in a Parent Zone article that “one of the biggest concerns for parents is around third party data usage.” This article also provides the processes for deleting personal data which is saved. It’s a task worth thinking about to protect your privacy.

Additionally, because of this concern, Dr Zhao advises parents to consider talking to their children about voice assisted technologies, particularly if they are used in the household. This will allow children to understand all the facets of voice assisted technology and to make appropriate decisions when using them.

If you would like to understand more about voice assisted technology, read one of our previous articles here.

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