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Politics of Speech-Enabled Software

I often think that speech-enabled software is one of the hottest of political potatoes. Just imagine if all organizations around the world decided to invest in automated voice response and voice recognition systems. I imagine that many people would lose their jobs.

In a way, the web has circumvented this possibility, because customers are now quite happy to do many things online that were previously phone-centric; for example, shopping, banking, buying insurance, trading shares, booking holidays, etc.

Even with the explosion in online transactions, there is still enormous scope for speech-enabled software to move people out of the customer-service loop. Interestingly, though, many such people probably work for government agencies, and sacking thousands of employees is not something that most governments like to do. (Here in Ireland, it’s even forbidden by law.) Therefore, speech technology is a thorny political issue for many organizations. On the other hand, many people still like to be able to speak to a human service representative. So it’s unlikely that people will be removed completely from the service loop.

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