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Advantages and drawbacks of Voice Recognition Technology

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Voice recognition

Voice recognition achieved by VUI (Voice User Interface) is the ability for a programmed machine to respond to voice command. With the efficiency and convenience associated to the technology, it is fast becoming a way to help bridge the gap in professional task management and daily activities. Voice recognition is becoming more sophisticated and reliable, and as such, we can expect the technology to be implemented more, across many different industries. At present, consumer trends are demonstrating rapid adoption of this new capability, with many companies striving to create optimal VUI experiences. Inside Telecom has comprised a few key advantages and drawbacks of this evolving technology.

Advantages of Voice and Speech Recognition technology

Talking is faster than typing!

Voice commands are a far more efficient tool than typing a message. Advancements are being made in technology to make life easier and voice recognition is being built-in to more devices to help boost convenience and efficiency. Voice recognition software has improved and according to a study at the University of Stanford, it has become significantly faster and more accurate at producing text (through speech-based dictation on a mobile device) than we are at typing on its keyboard.

By integrating technology, such as those offered by voice solutions, businesses can streamline documentation processes, and alleviate the burden of typing and other admin tasks, enabling professionals to focus on more challenging and rewarding aspects of the job.

VUI has come a long way

VUI is constantly evolving and has come leaps and bounds from older software once produced for companies’ customer service centers. We all remember encountering a rather frustrating automated service that did not have the advanced capability of understanding or responding to our voice activation (the first time around). Today, companies have implemented more developed voice recognition software that makes interaction with a robot feel more like a conversation with a human. And deep-machine learning means VUI software is able to understand more complex and diverse word responses. This shows that researchers are going that extra mile to improve VUI devices for a way that will fit into society and our broadening scope of needs. 

Voice recognition boosts productivity levels

Voice recognition and speech activation is being developed for a whole myriad of reasons. The most essential role it may have is in the workplace where it can provide support and assistance to task-management duties. Amazon’s Alexa can be used for managing and setting up conference calls as well as scheduling meetings and setting up reminders – this enables a company to streamline the process for everyone – which boosts productivity and efficiency levels.

This technology is making it possible to access big data instantly, allowing professionals to retrieve important information upon a voice command. As the technology develops, it will become commonplace to ask a question or request data for any specific case or project – taking less time than it would for us to manually search for information.

It can also streamline communication between people who speak different languages. The software has the capability of translating what is said in a foreign language into the native language for the recipient of the information to understand – which essentially helps one move beyond potential language barriers in daily business practices.

Drawbacks of voice and speech recognition

Privacy of voice recorded data

More devices are using VUI technology, which may present more challenges related to data privacy. If a device has this capability, the additional data can get tracked by the manufacturer. There have been concerns in the past that manufacturers would be capable of listening in on private conversations. This area of concern and questioning incentivized action from companies to work on offering better privacy controls for users.

Error and misinterpretation of words

Not all words are accurately interpreted with voice recognition. It is far easier for a human to decode words and turn it into meaning, than it is for voice recognition software to do so. The software’s limitation of understanding the contextual relation of words, may cause disruption to any given task assigned to the software along the way. It may encounter problems with slang words, acronyms or technical words/jargon.

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Facebook’s ad revenue takes hit from Apple ATT update

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Following Facebook’s financial results released on Monday, the social networking giant is anticipating a damaging effect rising from Apple’s iPhone privacy alterations led by Snap Inc’s missed revenue targets.

In April, the iOS developer incorporated additional privacy updates to prohibit advertisers from monitoring iPhone users without their permission. Apple’s move fueled fear in digital ad firms’ investors led by the reduction of data access resulting in an overturn in a mobile ad market valued at an estimation of $100 million. 

Apple delivers its iOS users with the option of choosing Snapchat or Facebook, or any other platform, to trail their on-app activities through the device’s distinctive identifier for advertising. The iPhone parent’s opt outwards out app developers from constructing an idea around how users respond to ads.

Snapchat confirmed on Tuesday its worries from Apple’s privacy changes, stating it will damage its capabilities in measuring whether the Snaps platform’s ads led to website visits or sales. In addition, the measuring tool delivered by the Big Tech giant did not achieve results as Snapchat was hoping, resulting in a loss of almost a quarter of its value last week, after missing ad revenue expectations.

For that reason, Snap’s shares witnessed a damaging drop in value by 25 percent, afflicting Facebook, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and Twitter along the way. The drag on mirrored on other tech platforms since they all earn revenue by marketing digital ads.

From its stance, Facebook predicted a revenue plunge for the three months till the end of December, ranging between $31.5 billion and $34 billion, led by Apple’s privacy requirements for platforms by demanding direct permission to examine users’ behavior.

While the news did not hold a major rippling effect on the social networking titan’s ad share price – which rose by 1.3 percent after trading hours, the titan’s CEO seems to be still haunted by the latest leaked documents addressing the company’s failure to curtail misleading information and hate speech on its platform by leaning towards profit prioritization over users.

“My view is that what we are seeing is a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to pay a false picture of our company. The reality is that we have an open culture, where we encourage discussion and research,” Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue in a call with investors.

To further dive into the topic, the managing director of internet equity research at Wedbush Securities, Ygal Aronian, stated that the company has reached a point where it can no longer deny or turn a blind eye on Apple’s privacy updates in regard to other social networking platforms’ revenue outcomes.

For Facebook, this could mean that its ad revenues will most probably be affected by Apple’s privacy features to its devices, according to Evercore ISI analysts. 

The social networking giant’s direct affiliation with ads generation is an undeviating representation of the firm’s intentions of prioritizing profit over users as it operates information data to generate accurate predictions to heighten sales and website visits.

Analysts believe Facebook is pursuing a $29.5 billion in revenue for its third quarter (Q3), marking a 37 percent in a fiscal year, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

At the moment, with the rise of investigative reports concerning the giant’s way of prioritizing profit over users, Facebook is experiencing a heavy backlash from governmental representatives for its demeanor and now, with the impact Apple’s App Transparency Tracking has on the platform, the social networking mogul revealed plan to initiate a different approach towards its targeted audience.

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg informed analysts that the company will change in course of action regarding advertisements by prioritizing younger users over older ones, following a reveal focusing on how the company’s popularity is diminishing among the under 30 demographics.

Facebook’s retooling of its approaches to fixate on younger demographics, in addition to indulging in its own fight with Apple’s latest privacy measures while attempting to beautify its image with the regulatory authorities could potentially hinder the firm’s approach towards optimizing its inner workings and course of actions.

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Chinese tech regulations morph U.S. firms’ course of action

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U.S. Big Tech legion seems to be torn between two economic powerhouses.

In a battle for dominion between the East and the West, Big Tech companies are forfeiting from the Chinese market to prevent getting caught in the conflict, except for Apple, according to the BBC.

Last week, Microsoft announced news of shutting down its professional network platform, LinkedIn, in China, despite the giant’s resumable operations in the country. The choice made came after compliance with Chinese authorities became quite an ordeal for the company to sustain. 

With the ever-growing emergence of regulatory scrutiny on tech companies in China, U.S.-based enterprises are finding it challenging to accommodate the governmental demands, and Apple is encountering a list of obligations owed to the government.

According to the BCC, last week, the iOS developer witnessed the removal of two vigorously powerful applications from its App Store in its Chinese market. Later, news surfaced that Amazon’s Audible, and Yahoo Finance were also extracted from the store.

The mogul’s Apple Censorship group disclosed that recently, the company observed an extensively high rate of applications being removed from its store.

One cannot help but marvel at the reasons behind these tactics adopted by the Chinese authorities against the American Big Tech giant and if the time is of significance to China’s plan to surpass U.S. influence in the tech market.

In the last couple of months, Beijing has been tightening its scrutinizing hold on the tech industry. A factor paraded in Microsoft’s and Apple’s domestic battle with the Chinese authorities amidst regulatory ripple on the innovative sector.

If we look closer, last months’ event led by the country’s harsh regulation on its own Big Tech firms, such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Huawei, left U.S.-based companies subjected to similar behavior, as China grows exasperated from all the supremacy forged from tech companies.

“The crackdown suggests that both Apple and Microsoft are very aware that their position is more tenuous than it’s been in recent years. They know they need to walk carefully,” author of The Great Firewall of China, James Griffiths, said in a statement.

Microsoft’s decision to extract LinkedIn from the Chinese market was mostly driven by law due for legislation on November 1st.

The personal Information Law (PIPL) forces these firms to abide by any regulation imposed on them. Meaning, the software developer will be “facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”

From there, immerges another riddle.

Why didn’t Apple follow in its Big Tech fellow’s footsteps? Why can’t the iPhone parent extract its manufacturing plans from the Chinese market?

The answer is simple. For Apple, it is not a plain black and white scenario, as it is with Microsoft’s LinkedIn.

The company’s manufacturing operations are embedded deeply into the country’s market, more than any other Big Tech company. This product integration into the Chinese market increases demands for products.

Apple’s 2021 second quarter (Q2) revealed a $15 billion revenue in China and Taiwan alone, marking a phenomenal figure compared to other tech companies since the iOS developer’s global supply chain relies heavily on Chinese manufacturing.

For this reason, Apple is comprehensively aware that it must comply with the powerhouse’s rules, even if it would force censorship to its Apple Store.

Although Beijing’s broadening dominion on tech firms might highlight some red flags in reference to the country’s view on the industry, it does not mean that China is extensively monitoring and fixating its gaze at U.S.-based tech firms.

China clearly wants global tech firms to abide by its set of rules, as it is rightfully valid for a rising reign to impose authorities on expanding tech influence on its territory.

“The Western media is wearing tinted lens when they say China is over-regulating. The U.S. should think more about whether its own government is setting the restrictions too high in its exchanges with China, especially for those high-tech enterprises,” a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, Li Haidong, told the Global Times. 

Beijing’s desire to push lucrative tech companies to abide by Chinese laws on its province will force American firms to fasten their adaptation to the latest adjustment to the country’s market.

With U.S. empowered restrictions on China, one cannot deny that time would eventually come for U.S. Big Tech firms to be affected by their country’s harsh tactics on Chinese firms.

In this case, China could either be retaliating against U.S. sanctions or simply exacting regulatory tech authority on its turf. Or it could be both.

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EXPLAINER: What the metaverse is and how it will work

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EXPLAINER What the metaverse is and how it will work

The term “metaverse” seems to be everywhere. Facebook is hiring thousands of engineers in Europe to work on it, while video game companies are outlining their long-term visions for what some consider the next big thing online.

The metaverse, which could spring up again when Facebook releases earnings Monday, is the latest buzzword to capture the tech industry’s imagination.

It could be the future, or it could be the latest grandiose vision by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that doesn’t turn out as expected or isn’t widely adopted for years — if at all.

Plus, many have concerns about a new online world tied to a social media giant that could get access to even more personal data and is accused of failing to stop harmful content.

Here’s what this online world is all about:

WHAT IS THE METAVERSE?

Think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. Zuckerberg has described it as a “virtual environment” you can go inside of — instead of just looking at on a screen. Essentially, it’s a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices.

It also will incorporate other aspects of online life such as shopping and social media, according to Victoria Petrock, an analyst who follows emerging technologies.

“It’s the next evolution of connectivity where all of those things start to come together in a seamless, doppelganger universe, so you’re living your virtual life the same way you’re living your physical life,” she said.

But keep in mind that “it’s hard to define a label to something that hasn’t been created,” said Tuong Nguyen, an analyst who tracks immersive technologies for research firm Gartner.

Facebook warned it would take 10 to 15 years to develop responsible products for the metaverse, a term coined by writer Neal Stephenson for his 1992 science fiction novel “Snow Crash.”

WHAT WILL I BE ABLE TO DO IN THE METAVERSE?

Things like go to a virtual concert, take a trip online, and buy and try on digital clothing.

The metaverse also could be a game-changer for the work-from-home shift amid the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of seeing co-workers on a video call grid, employees could see them virtually.

Facebook has launched meeting software for companies, called Horizon Workrooms, to use with its Oculus VR headsets, though early reviews have not been great. The headsets cost $300 or more, putting the metaverse’s most cutting-edge experiences out of reach for many.

For those who can afford it, users would be able, through their avatars, to flit between virtual worlds created by different companies.

“A lot of the metaverse experience is going to be around being able to teleport from one experience to another,” Zuckerberg says.

Tech companies still have to figure out how to connect their online platforms to each other. Making it work will require competing technology platforms to agree on a set of standards, so there aren’t “people in the Facebook metaverse and other people in the Microsoft metaverse,” Petrock said.

IS FACEBOOK GOING ALL IN ON THE METAVERSE?

Indeed, Zuckerberg is going big on what he sees as the next generation of the internet because he thinks it’s going to be a big part of the digital economy. He expects people to start seeing Facebook as a metaverse company in coming years rather than a social media company.

A report by tech news site The Verge said Zuckerberg is looking at using Facebook’s annual virtual reality conference this coming week to announce a corporate name change, putting legacy apps like Facebook and Instagram under a metaverse-focused parent company. Facebook hasn’t commented on the report.

Critics wonder if the potential pivot could be an effort to distract from the company’s crises, including antitrust crackdowns, testimony by whistleblowing former employees and concerns about its handling of misinformation.

Former employee Frances Haugen, who accused Facebook’s platforms of harming children and inciting political violence, plans to testify Monday before a United Kingdom parliamentary committee looking to pass online safety legislation.

IS THE METAVERSE JUST A FACEBOOK PROJECT?

No. Zuckerberg has acknowledged that “no one company” will build the metaverse by itself.

Just because Facebook is making a big deal about the metaverse doesn’t mean that it or another tech giant will dominate the space, Nguyen said.

“There are also a lot of startups that could be potential competitors,” he said. “There are new technologies and trends and applications that we’ve yet to discover.”

Video game companies also are taking a leading role. Epic Games, the company behind the popular Fortnite video game, has raised $1 billion from investors to help with its long-term plans for building the metaverse. Game platform Roblox is another big player, outlining its vision of the metaverse as a place where “people can come together within millions of 3D experiences to learn, work, play, create and socialize.”

Consumer brands are getting in on it, too. Italian fashion house Gucci collaborated in June with Roblox to sell a collection of digital-only accessories. Coca-Cola and Clinique have sold digital tokens pitched as a stepping stone to the metaverse.

Zuckerberg’s embrace of the metaverse in some ways contradicts a central tenet of its biggest enthusiasts. They envision the metaverse as online culture’s liberation from tech platforms like Facebook that assumed ownership of people’s accounts, photos, posts and playlists and traded off what they gleaned from that data.

“We want to be able to move around the internet with ease, but we also want to be able to move around the internet in a way we’re not tracked and monitored,” said venture capitalist Steve Jang, a managing partner at Kindred Ventures who focuses on cryptocurrency technology.

WILL THIS BE ANOTHER WAY TO GET MORE OF MY DATA?

It seems clear that Facebook wants to carry its business model, which is based on using personal data to sell targeted advertising, into the metaverse.

“Ads are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what we do, and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse, too,” Zuckerberg said in the company’s most recent earnings call.

That raises fresh privacy concerns, Nguyen said, involving “all the issues that we have today, and then some we’ve yet to discover because we’re still figuring out what the metaverse will do.”

Petrock she said she’s concerned about Facebook trying to lead the way into a virtual world that could require even more personal data and offer greater potential for abuse and misinformation when it hasn’t fixed those problems in its current platforms.

“I don’t think they fully thought through all the pitfalls,” she said. “I worry they’re not necessarily thinking through all the privacy implications of the metaverse.”


LONDON (AP)

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