Missing The Accessibility Angle

Believe it or not it was Google I/O keynote yesterday! I completely missed this until the event was on, not sure if it is publicised less or I take less of an interest now. Even so Google put all of their eggs in the AI basket and also demonstrated loads of updates to Android. Throw in a few self driving cars for good measure, but most controversially Google Assistant voice capabilities.

The demo of Google Duplex lead to initial amazement, lots of worry about AI and then the inevitable backlash. Most notability of which on this weeks Connected podcast the technology was completely ripped apart. Not just a little bit, but completely dismissed as not needed and pointless. The service is indeed initially very creepy but this is indicative of a lot of tech commentators – they completely miss the accessibility angle.

It shouldn’t even really be referred to as an angle, accessibility should be front and centre of everything. I don’t expect every person to understand what technology such as this can do to people with a disability, but people need to start considering others. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a service such as this could revolutionise the lives of those with communication issues. Not simply for those that are mute, but a whole range of speech impediments completely remove the possibility to use the telephone. Yet Google are working on the ability for voice communication to be done entirely autonomously – current systems are very expensive, clunky to use or rely on preprogrammed responses.

I do agree that perhaps the person on the other end should be informed, but if Google know everything about you they might be able to make a pretty good replacement anyway!

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