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The Dark Side of Virtual Assistants

It seems Japan pulls no punches and goes exactly to how people think virtual assistants will be used — as companions.

This is right out of Her except with the virtual assistant being much more restrained, dependant, and subservient. Actually, never mind, this character is NOTHING like the Samantha character in Her. In that movie, Samantha seemed to be thoughtful and had a desire for self-actualization. In her journey, she ended up helping the main character of the movie find a connection with a real human.

Gatebox seems to have removed that pesky bit of reasoning from its Azuma character. The device caters to a certain type of lonely male fantasy. Unfortunately, it ends up creating unreal expectations of companionship (that it actually means servitude) that could make it more difficult for these users to feel real connections.

The best of technologies that are being developed are the ones that bring out the best of us. They make us more considerate of each other, more present, and kinder. An immediate example is the Keepon robot that was designed to help kids with autism make eye contact with other people or the Paro petting robot to help calm down those with anxiety.

There will always be opportunities to cater to humanity’s dark side. If we’re building technology, it should lead to us being better beings.

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