Dear Noble Robo-Witness,
The illustration, featured above, shows a slide of the human cerebrum – – the major “thinking” region of our brain. These “thinking” regions include one near the middle of the top, in our so-called “dominant” cerebral hemisphere. It is called Broca’s Motor Speech Area. It is very important, because, within this Motor Speech Area, we voluntarily make the sounds of our human speech. In addition, the temporal (“temple”) region of the cerebrum, is the location where we usually “hear and perceive sounds,” such as the voices of other people who are speaking to us.
In this way, over many millennia, we human beings have developed an efficient way of NATURALLY speaking to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS, and then, in turn, having our NATURAL VOICES being HEARD AND PERCEIVED BY OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. This basic human situation has remained largely intact – – until about 10 years ago!
“Technology Has Changed Us In The Last Decade”
The above sub-head is actually the title of a Dec. 10, 2019, article written by Edward C. Baig, and published in USA TODAY. He has pointedly reminded us that, a mere ten years ago (in 2010), “‘Alexa’ was just another female name. . . . . . Amazon Echo hadn’t been born.” And, “For better or worse, just about all the products and services that made a mark in the 2010s, or at least tried to, have been labeled ‘smart’: Thus, we have smart thermostats, smart fridges, smart watches, smart TVs and smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home.”
Recent Advent of the Connected Age
Edward Baig cites the timely observation of Steve Koenig, vice president of research at the Consumer Technology Association: “‘I’ve been describing this decade as the connected age. We’ve been talking about Internet of Things for about the past 10 years, and over that period of time, everything has become connected.'”
In response, Baig comments that, “Maybe the biggest thing the tech industry brought to consumers this past decade, or at the very least the loudest, are the voice-based personal assistants that live in smart speakers, not to mention on our phones, in our cars and even in our bathrooms.” I think it is particularly revealing, how Baig claims that voice-based personal assistants somehow “Live” within our smart phones! It certainly appears to be both a very reasonable (as well as very troubling) fact that, indeed, “Technology has changed us in the last decade”!
I have been a long-time college professor and textbook author in the field of Human Anatomy – – the study of “Normal” Body Structures, such as that of the cerebrum of our brain. I have also thought and written about the field of Human Physiology – – the study of “Normal” Body Functions, such as those of normal talking using Broca’s motor speech area, and of listening via our temporal lobes of the brain.
Now, however, in 2020, “The Year of Artificial Intelligence,” far too many of us are finding ourselves “talking” to Alexa, and then avidly “listening” to her supposedly wise AI advice! Alexa is merely an AI-device, a voice-based personal assistant that has no brain, and “she” lacks either a Broca’s Motor Speech Area, or a temporal lobe for listening to OUR Natural HUMAN voices!
As Edward Baig sums it up, “No, Alexa, the Google Assistant[,] and Siri[,] were not yet a thing[,] way back in 2010. But is it not a true measure of how far consumer tech has come ever since, that we can now ask Alexa to flush the toilet?” I would add that, “Yes, we have, indeed, allowed technology to change us, in the last decade”! I would extend this further, and speculate, “Is this not a new manifestation of Abnormal Psychology, that is affecting many of us tech-addicted HUMAN BEINGS? Soon, will we even be able to TELL, whether or not we are talking and listening to REAL PEOPLE, living REAL LIVES ON PLANET EARTH, as opposed to VOICE-BASED PERSONAL ASSISTANTS, who have FALSE LIVES within our CELL PHONES?”