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Conversational AI: from DIY to Do It For Me (DIFM) - Issue #40

Conversational AI: from DIY to Do It For Me (DIFM) - Issue #40
By Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly • Issue #40 • View online
We are moving from the apps world that allowed customer to DIY to a voice-first one: Do It For Me. Increasingly chatbots and voice-based digital assistants are enabling this new approach. One of the news today highlight this important trend for 2019.
In this issue, beyond DIFM, we explore the latest events in voice technology space: Siri leadership shakeup, Spotify recent acquisition of Anchor and Gimlet Media and Choose Your Own Adventure in Alexa.
As always, much ❤️.

The ultimate resource in voice technology.
The ultimate resource in voice technology.
The BBC's first year in Voice
Our focus is on what happens when people talk to devices using ordinary human language, instead of using buttons or dials, to get the BBC services they want.
The BBC has been experimenting with voice since 2017. In this piece they recount their experience so far building for voice and discovering what happens when people talk to devices using ordinary human language, instead of using buttons or dials, to get the BBC services they want.
The interesting take here is how BBC is combining their creative values and their experience in media on both radio and TV and bring it to voice technology. The fundamental theme all around the text is experimentation: we’re looking at how both news content and technology can be more native to Voice + AI and We want to see what kinds of conversations people actually want to have with the BBC. These are questions brands should be asking themselves when immersing in voice: what kind of conversations people want to have with them and how to present that content in the most native way.
A history of designing Cortana’s personality
I came across this article from a year ago by the Jonathan Foster from Microsoft on their work designing Cortana’s personality. It’s pretty good write up, presenting an engaging story on how Cortana gets its voice through authoring: Authoring is required, not because the algorithms aren’t brilliant, but because language is so brilliantly subtle. And also how the team deals with building Cortana’s “imaginary world”. Give it a read.
2019 Predictions by Viv Labs co-founder Adam Cheyer
We are still rolling in new year predictions for voice technology. Adam Cheyer, co-founder of Siri and Viv Labs - currently working with Samsung’s Bixby - shared in this editorial his vision for digital assistants space in 2019. The one I want to bring attention to is Cheyer prediction of one assistant instead of 50 000.
Assistant experiences will move towards a more seamless, integrated interface, where you can ask for what you want in the way you want, and interact more naturally with services provided by third parties… As this prediction comes to fruition, users will have a much more efficient, customizable experience, and service providers will have a much more scalable channel to receive relevant service requests.
When we were working on creating VoiceFirst Weekly Bixby capsule, I realized that the vision Bixby is proposing is very compelling and might solve the discoverability problem with the current landscape of skills/actions/capsules. However, the question becomes whether Bixby can first gain user’s trust again after the backlash it got with the first version and two if when it does, Amazon, Google (or any other raising competitor) have not taken an insurmountable lead.
How AI, Millennials and chatbots will shape the future of payments
Visa recently published the Payments technology trends to watch in 2019, and surely chatbots and digital assistants made the list:
The explosion of apps allowed consumers to do-it-yourself (DIY), but now the addition of AI, chatbots and voice-based digital assistants are enabling a do-it-for-me (DIFM) approach. Facebook already offers 300,000 chatbots on its Messenger platform that are ready to be at your service. When we talk to consumers about their experiences using financial chatbots, we hear that they love the speed and personalization.
Audible has a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' experience on Alexa
More content rich experiences are being released recently. Please note that I’m firm believer in interactive audio/voice/ar experiences. The latest one by Audible, a company of Amazon announced this week that has partnered with ChooseCo, to create an Alexa Skill called Choose Your Own Adventure: An Immersive Audible Experience that will transform those childhood classics into professional audio and voice performances.
This isn’t the first choose-your-own-adventure style story on Alexa. There have been other experiences before, like The Magic Door and Westworld: The Maze, but these have been more like games and riddles rather than simply choosing one path over another. Plus, this new experience is actually from the official Choose Your Own Adventure publishers.
Shake up at Cupertino
This week we learned that Apple had removed Siri team lead as part of a shift in their AI strategy. Apple executive Bill Stasior, who has led the Siri team since joining the company in 2012, has been removed as head of the project in a sweeping strategy shift favoring long-term research over incremental updates, according to a report on Friday. Apple SVP of machine learning and AI John Giannendrea reportedly made the decision and is anticipated to start a search for a new head of Siri, the report said, though a timeline for replacement is unknown.
In a related note I got an email from Apple Podcasts this week announcing that we could now introduce our listeners to Siri.
You can now ask Siri to play Apple Podcasts including commands like Play show name, what’s this and subscribe to this podcast.
Siri has been MIA in the voice technology space recently. This is the first development I hear since the announcement of Shortcuts. Apparently, they are back in the game.
In the news
Quote of the week
Human language is the new UI layer.
Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly

The ultimate resource in #VoiceFirst. Weekly digest of the most relevant news in the #VoiceFirst ecosystem. Everything from voice assistants to bots including conversational AI and published audio.

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