“Computer, lights:” How Ars staffers actually use voice-interactive bots

“… but no force on Earth can make me speak to it in a normal, non-stupid voice.”

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It's Labor Day—the day when, here in America, we get a little bit of a break from our daily work responsibilities. Most people are off work, students are out of school, and with any luck, we're kicking back with loved ones and enjoying beverages together.

That made us wonder: how do Ars staffers reduce their labor, day to day? Or put another way, do we trust those newfound voice-activated AI bots on our smartphones and smartspeakers?

I only use Siri on my iPhone occasionally ("timer, five minutes!"), and I like using it to read and respond to text messages while I'm on my bike, scurrying around town ("read last text message!"). But beyond that, my experience is that voicebots don't yet add much to the menial tasks of day-to-day computing. In the environments where I'd want a voicebot most—riding my bike on busy city streets—Siri often doesn't hear me correctly, so my texts get garbled. I can't tell you how many times I get the dreaded: "You'll have to unlock your iPhone first."

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