Virtual Assistants: Look Before You Leap


GettyImages-1212019139.jpgStudies have predicted that the AI-powered digital assistance market, which includes voice enablement, may grow to more than seven billion devices. Driven by the allure of greater productivity and employee collaboration, businesses have begun integrating voice-activated technology into the workplace. Little wonder, really. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud computing, put virtual speech-recognition accuracy roughly on par with human speech recognition at 95% or better.
So why wouldn’t all businesses consider using voice interfaces? Security and privacy are reasons most trumpeted by tech-watchers, attorneys and others who urge caution. “Many voice- enabled technologies have always-on microphones that are listening to pretty much everything you say,” warns Johns Hopkins computer-science professor, Matthew D. Green. “This definitely creates a privacy risk in corporate environments, where [devices] may be activated in error, and what you thought was a private conversation is sent…to the cloud.” Of course, whether collected intentionally or by accident, voice files living in the cloud are as vulnerable as other types of personal information that, by regulation, must be protected.