Earlier today, one of my sons shared with me that he’d been served up an ad on YouTube in which he’d recognized the narration as being text to speech. And that it was a bit weird. It was a Kitkat candy bar ad. He also mentioned a similar ad for Old Navy.
Too late for Old Navy though. We’ve already gone shopping for clothes.
My first thought about the ads was, this will put some professional voice actors out of work!
Luckily, a robot voice is not yet on the same level as spontaneous human speech and interaction by real people. This is judging by the boggling array of “content creators” on TikTok and YouTube, etc. Humans are weirder than robots.
This week I also saw a demo of a so-called humanoid nurse robot designed for healthcare. Very creepy! The concept of “safety” crept in at the end of the demo and news segment.
My son and I watched the nurse robot video together. We concurred that obviously, real human interaction far surpasses robotic “caregiving”.
There’s recent acknowledgment that “remote learning” is decidedly NOT an acceptable substitute for in-person schooling. For example, an attentive and caring teacher or parent who reads aloud to a child, or group of children, has the ability to gauge understanding in real time by reading facial expressions, fielding spontaneous questions, and clarifying definitions as needed. A prerecorded audio book does not do any of the above. Neither can a teacher share a laugh or joke with their class on Zoom in quite the same way as a group of people gathered in person.
Reading with my children when they were young, while snuggled on a couch, and talking about what we’ve read, has been a foundational part of their educational journey.
Of course, they are now glued to YouTube.