Machines That Understand Us on the Rise

NEW YORK, June 25 (UPI) — Devices that can understand people, using a technology known as speech recognition, are becoming a common feature of everyday life, researchers say.

From people telling their cellphones to dial a number to doctors using speech recognition software to record and transcribe patient visits, speech recognition is making inroads into all areas of human activity, The New York Times reported Friday.

Call centers use voice software technology, often to the point where an entire session is automated. If a caller becomes confused or angry, the software can even recognize that and transfer the call to a human manager.

A dark side of the technology, experts warn, is the almost certain loss of millions of jobs as humans are replaced by machines that can understand speech and act to perform a simple requested task.

“Basic work that can be automated is in the bull’s-eye of both technology and globalization, and the rise of artificial intelligence just magnifies that reality,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

But the technology will also drive innovation and create job opportunities, Brynjolfsson says, just as the Internet has led to new businesses and new forms of communication like blogs and social networking.

Experts say the technology is still in its infancy and some day smart machines could tutor students, assist surgeons and safely drive cars, the Times reported.

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