Volley Co-Founder Says Industry ‘Went Wrong’ by Coupling Voice Control With ‘Imaginary Humans’ (Podcast)

“Tech vs Media” podcast: Max Child identifies Siri as “over-promising and under-delivering” the capabilities of voice control

Tech vs Media Max Child
Max Child shared his take on voice control on the Tech vs Media podcast (TheWrap)

Volley Co-Founder Max Child sees a vast future for voice control in the tech world, but says the industry “went wrong” by coupling voice control with “imaginary humans,” like Siri and Alexa.

“We went wrong a little bit as an industry coupling voice control very tightly with imaginary humans and little cylinders that sit on your desk,” Child said on TheWrap’s “Tech vs Media” podcast with host Richard Wolpert. “I think speech recognition is actually pretty good, and I think you could actually do a lot of pretty straightforward tasks on your computer, on your phone [and] on these smart home devices without having to have an imaginary human living within your devices.”

As technology surrounding voice control and AI rapidly evolves, Child identifies Siri and voice control on Apple devices in particular as an aspect that “held back” the service by “over-promising and under-delivering” the capabilities of voice control.

“Once people got in this mind that any voice control the interface had to be with an imaginary AI assistant person, I think you open yourself up to like, ‘Well, this person should be able to answer any question a human can answer,’ which is a pretty broad array of things,” Child explained, adding that the human component might encourage users to ask followup questions that the AI isn’t programmed to answer.

On the other hand, Child sees Siri on Apple TV as a “better experience,” because the format limits users’ expectations of the AI to only controlling volume and programming — similar to Alexa’s function with playing music.

Child, whose company Volley created voice control games like “Song Quiz” and “Yes Sire,” predicts voice control will become part of every “computing device in [users’] lives in five to 10 years” — including virtual reality.

“If we get into an AR, VR glasses universe, it’s crazy to not think that you would be speaking to those devices and doing a lot of those things… with your voice,” Child said, adding that even cars will adopt voice control features. “The market to me is like all computing devices — that doesn’t mean we’ll be successful on all computing devices — but I think the penetration is true ubiquity.”

For the co-founder, adopting voice control is an intuitive move for tech as “talking is still the most natural way to sort of communicate with with anything… to manifest your beliefs or your desires into the world.”

“Computers evolved to suit humans to be more intuitive to human beings,” he said. “It seems very straightforward that we’re gonna use voice to interact with our computing devices. It’s really just about how can you get the software and the voice recognition to work well, in a way where it’s really easy to use [and] it’s as easy to use as touchscreen.”

Listen to the full episode below.

Episode highlights:

  • Max Child breaks down Volley’s goal of becoming a “homepage for voice control games, across all manner of devices”
  • Max Child walks through the accessibility that comes with voice control programs
  • Max Child explores how voice control and creative AI features in gaming could interact
  • Max Child predicts Alexa might be driving sales for Amazon Music
  • Max Child explains why he thinks Siri on the Apple TV is a “better experience” than Siri on the iPhone
  • Max Child identifies that the industry is going through a transition from “deterministic programming to AI and machine learning driven programming”

About “Tech vs Media”

On each episode of “Tech vs Media,” host Richard Wolpert — who has decades of technology and media experience as an executive, founder of tech companies, venture capitalist and philanthropist — and one his esteemed guests will divulge enlightening lessons and give their insightful perspective on the movers, creators, disruptors and innovations that are shaping the future of media and technology and how these industries will intertwine with one another.

New episodes of “Tech vs Media” drop weekly. Click here for all the episodes.