During the Industrial Revolution, many workers lived in fear that the emerging new machines would take over their jobs and, no surprise, they did. It is called Technological Unemployment, and it happens every century or so. From the 18th century hand knitters being replaced by weaving machines, to the 20th century farmer being put out of job by tractors.
Truth is, many people suffered job losses due to technological evolution. We have the data and the history to make a valid point.
However, there is some sort of pattern in all this. It pretty much comes down to hard, physical, low productive labour. It’s the jobs we don’t exactly want to do.
So, just like robots won’t necessarily take over all our jobs, but the jobs we don’t want to do, voice assistants will most likely only replace the interactions we don’t want to have.
Wether it is because they’re annoying, take too much time or are overall pleasure-less (interaction wise), they’ll be there for us when we need them.
When you call someone, the number typing, contacts searching or dial pressing, has nothing to do with the interaction you’re there for; talking to that person.
Same goes for getting directions, the weather forecast, or playing music. It’s really not about typing in your destination, picking your location, or searching your favorite artist and pressing play.
I’m not gonna get into all the privacy concerns, 1984 dystopia, but there are still many things we’d rather do on an interface level, and I, personally, don’t really feel comfortable being on a subway, or any public place for that matter, saying Ok Google followed by whatever command.
We are downloading more apps now that ever, and the stats predict a continuous growth for the next couple of years.
With Games being the most downloaded app category, we are downloading entertainment, of course, but nothing more than an immersive interaction.
Even though I don’t support its abusive use, people crave interface interaction. We are looking forward to that piece of information on the next scroll, and the next, and the next…
Once our brain learned that scrolling down will eventually present us with some type of information that may be of value to us, that scroll becomes the trigger for a dopamine release. We’re now expecting the new information, scroll after scroll, and that’s what gets us addicted to those infinite content pools.
Maybe an over the top example, but just to point out that we’re naturally wired to be very into things that respond seamlessly to our physical commands, and interface interaction is now pretty much perfected on that level.
Voice assistants, however beautifully engineered by now, not only represent a less engaging interaction, but are also not that seamless yet.
Voice assistants are definitely changing the way we interact with technology, but that does not necessarily mean they will replace the use of interface. They will assist it and make way for new types of interaction, yet, in my opinion, interface will still be playing the major role in technological interaction for many years to come.