Talking to technology
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It's good to have friends that we can talk to and share our thoughts and opinions with. More importantly, they're people we can ask for help or advice. But recently it seems, many of us are developing a new relationship with a mystery person that we'll never meet!
I'm talking about virtual assistants or bots. These are pieces of software that we can talk to and it can talk back to us. Examples include Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. It might be on your phone or computer or even a smart speaker in your home. They are changing the way we interact with technology - instead of typing on a computer keyboard or tapping on a tablet, we can now speak and a voice will answer.
The people behind these voices are called conversation designers. Tom Hewitson is one of them. He told the BBC "this is kind of changing [computers] into like an agent. They’re an active participant in the interaction and in guiding you to make the right decision." So he's saying this cutting-edge technology has the ability to think for itself and make its own decisions.
It is a scary thought that this virtual voice can think for you – will it stop us using our own brains and will we lose the ability to write things down or type? They are certainly clever, helping you to book train tickets, give you the latest weather news or even tell you a joke. But are they really your new best friend?
One thing we can't do yet is to make chit-chat or small talk with it. We have to alter the way we speak. As Tom Hewitson says "We will develop our own kind of vernacular for speaking with machines that will be subtly different from how we speak to other people… It can be much more brusque and to the point."
But there's no doubt this technology will soon be commonplace in our lives. This year Google Duplex was revealed, described by the company as artificial intelligence "for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone". It's a type of chatbot that will allow you to, for example, chat to your hairdresser about when they can fit you in for a cut. Other companies are working on similar things. But before they perfect this new technology, don't forget who your real friends are!
agent (=something that causes change)作用剂，动因
think for itself独立思考
artificial intelligence (AI)人工智能
1. How do you communicate with a virtual assistant?
2. Give an example of something, mentioned in this article, that this new technology can do for you.
3. True or false: We can talk to virtual assistants the same way we talk to our friends.
4. Why does the author fear that we may eventually stop using our brains?
5. Which verb used in the text means 'make something completely free from faults'?
1. It's hard to ______ with the teacher because I have to sit at the back of the class.
A.inactive B. interact C. interacted D. interacting
2. Making contactless payments used to be quite unusual but now it's ______.
A.real-world B. agent C. commonplace D. cutting-edge
3. The train information screens are not working today because there is a problem with the ______.
A.software B. artificial intelligence C.agent D. chatbot
4. This new driverless car really demonstrates ______ technology.
A.edge-cutting B. cutting-edges C. cut-edges D. cutting-edge
5. The local ______ was very different from what I had learnt at school so I couldn't understand what people were saying.
A.vernacular B. chatbot C. brusque D. chit-chat
1. What is a GMO?
A GMO is a genetically-modified organism.
2. True or false: Genetic modification and gene editing are the same thing.
False. Genetic modification introduces foreign material into a creature. Gene editing alters a creature's DNA.
3. What effect has gene-editing had on these pigs?
The pigs are allegedly immune to the PRRS virus.
4.In what way does Helen Browning believe that gene editing targets the symptom and not the root cause of the problem?
She says it doesn't encourage companies to improve the way they keep their pigs, stopping them from becoming diseased in the first place.
5. Which word in the text means 'physical and mental health and happiness'?
Welfare. (Critics have argued that the creature's welfare will actually suffer because of this.)
1. I'm veryhardy. I almost never get sick and I've never broken a bone.
2. Anyone who has been to the tropics recently may have beenexposedto the virus.
3. Whether or not your character is determined by yourDNAis still hotly debated.
4. The plants absorb water and othernutrientsthrough their roots.
5. The life-saving medicine is still undergoingtrials, but should be available shortly.