I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Pondering on Google I/O

I’ve been think­ing a lot about the things that Google announced at I/O this week. I feel like I’m stuck in a weird camp of being both fas­ci­nat­ed and ter­ri­fied all at once.
The rate at which Google Assis­tant is devel­op­ing is astound­ing and the idea that they are work­ing towards the com­put­er from Star Trek is real­ly quite cool. They are clear­ly get­ting there quite quick­ly. The video demos of Duplex mak­ing a call on your behalf to make a hair appoint­ment or book a restau­rant is frankly amaz­ing. If those video’s are true (why didn’t they do a live demo?) then they’ve cre­at­ed a com­put­er that can pass the Tur­ing Test and fool a human into think­ing they are talk­ing to anoth­er human. This is one of the things that ter­ri­fies me.
I’ve long been uncom­fort­able with the amount of infor­ma­tion Google can gath­er on peo­ple. Now they are show­ing how a lot of that data has been used to under­stand how humans com­mu­ni­cate in the way they are build­ing Duplex and demon­strat­ing it’s abil­i­ty to mim­ic that. Like­wise with the new auto­com­plete in Gmail that they demon­strat­ed, these things are impres­sive, as is the poten­tial util­i­ty of them.
My strug­gle is that I hate the idea of all this data being col­lect­ed on peo­ple, most­ly with­out them real­is­ing, but at the same time I find that I want to use the new prod­ucts that Google are cre­at­ing with it all. I hate hav­ing to make phone calls to peo­ple I don’t know and the idea that I could just ask a com­put­er to do it for me is great, but, it scares me. Just because we can do that begs the ques­tion should we be doing it? When humans are speak­ing in this man­ner, there’s an inher­ent lev­el of trust that is built. It’s a ver­bal con­tract between two peo­ple, with a com­mit­ment from both to ful­fil it. If a com­put­er takes over this ele­ment on behalf of one of the par­ties, do we erode that trust? How far do we let these com­mu­ni­ca­tions go? If we are not respon­si­ble for mak­ing appoint­ments and book­ings, do they start to become dis­pos­able? Will we become less inclined to keep them, and how will this impact small businesses?

Introducing Microsoft Surface Studio ›

Microsoft have intro­duced the Sur­face Stu­dio which looks incred­i­ble. As a design­er this has instant­ly appealed to me. When I was a teenag­er study­ing for my GCSEs and A‑Levels I had a large draw­ing table in my bed­room, I used it as my desk to do all my design course­work since at the time it was all most­ly done by hand. When I watched this video I was instant­ly tak­en back to that time, this looks like the draw­ing table of today. It looks like the iMac Apple could make if they applied some of their iPad vision to the world of desk­top computing.