NEWSLETTER: HOW AI READY ARE WE & FACEBOOK LOOKS TO GO BEYOND ‘CLICKTIVISM’!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”
? Edsger W. Dijkstra

GOOGLE HOME OUTAGE PROVES WE MIGHT NOT BE READY FOR AI YET

THE STORY

According to a June 5 Android Headlines report, a number of Google Home users were faced with an outage wherein the AI (Google Assitant) failed to respond.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

Google Home is supposed to take voice commands through Google Assistant. Much to the chagrin of users, the AI-enabled device suffered an outage due to an unexplained error. At the recently concluded, Google I/O, the Mountain VIew-based tech giant gave out several free Google Home speakers to those who participated in the conference. However, several Home users around the world suddenly found out that the high-end device was malfunctioning.

WHAT DOES GOOGLE HOME DO?

Google positioned it as a competitor to Amazon’s Echo. Launched in 2016, Google Home is a hands-free smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant, pretty much like Amazon’s Alexa. It’s meant to be the control center for all smart home devices.

HOW MAINSTREAM IS AI FOR THE AVERAGE PERSON?

If you have seen the James Franco starrer ‘Why Him’, you would probably think it is just a matter of time before AI becomes as commonplace as your freezer or washing machine. Franco plays uber rich hipster tech genius Laird Mayhew who lives in a smart ‘paper-less’ home. Among many other ‘cool’ things, this maverick’s home has an in-house AI called Justine! Voiced by Kaley Cuoco (of BBT fame), Justine is the dream AI we would want for ourselves. She not only takes voice commands but is extremely intelligent being who can lift your mood, give you good advice and even help you out in family matters!

However much we would like to think that such a day is not far away, the Google Home outage is perhaps a sign that tech giants probably need to take it slow when it comes to introducing AI as part of our daily lives.

ARE THE GOOGLE HOME SPEAKERS STILL MALFUNCTIONING?

Google was flooded with complaints from irate users. But it turned out that the solution lay in simply disconnecting the device and plugging it again. Pretty old school, eh! This might have been a minor glitch but it leaves us with a larger question:Are we AI-ready yet?


FACEBOOK WANTS TO ENGAGE MORE WITH ‘CLICKTIVISM’

THE STORY

Facebook wants to make social network activism more consequential.

HOW IS THAT GOING TO HAPPEN?

The popular social networking site intends to give you contact details of your local political representative for you to contact him/her directly! Reacting with an ‘Angry Face’ emoticon doesn’t really make a difference in the real world. And this is what prompted FaceBook to move beyond ‘clicktivism’.

WHAT DOES FACEBOOK PROPOSE?

“One of the problems with clicking Angry Face on a story about some kleptocrat earning a fast buck for themselves is that it has no real consequences. It’s an issue that Facebook is looking to challenge by instantly providing the details of your local political representative. You can then append their contact details to your public post, enabling yourself (and others) to make your feelings known in a more meaningful way.” ~ Engadget

IS IT ACTUALLY GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

This is not an entirely new concept. In February this year, Mark Zuckerberg wrote a rather longish and impassioned essay about  how his social network can engage people more meaningfully with civic society. The ‘angry’, ‘sad’, ‘wow’ emoticons used by most users after reading stories on political decisions, policies, etc. added little substance to this intent. However, shortly after the essay, FaceBook launched a site called Town Hall which let voters search for officials with whom they could engage. But there was no automated contact suggestions. That is where the latest update comes in. You don’t have to ‘search’ these details any more. It will be automatically suggested to you and yeah, if you ask me, it could make a difference given the reach and scope of social media activists!

HOW IS THIS FEATURE GOING TO WORK?

Originally conceived by TechCrunch, this feature will will offer users relevant names, such as your nearest Governor, Senator or Representative. And the best part is, these officials can’t possibly feel ‘annoyed’ even if you append their details in your public posts.  Because they won’t be informed of your post directly. You’ll have to write to them to get their attention. But hey, it’s social media. If someone or something is being talked about on FB, can it really not reach the person concerned!

Gargi Sengupta

Gargi is working with Systweak Software as Content Editor and Strategist. She believes Technology laced with Pop Culture, makes for an interesting combination. Beyond her work space, she fancies herself as a left-brained, right leaning conscientious individual with a weakness for good food, films, and fiction.

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