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Is Siri teaching kids to be disrespectful and rude?

Top artificial intelligence authorities, including representatives from Google and IBM, are concerned the growing number of voice assistants might be creating a generation without manners as they learn how to demand answers from computers without saying “please” or “thank you”, reports Daily Telegraph.

Google revealed it would add its voice assistant to all modern smartphones this month, allowing users to demand answers from their phones with questions such as “dim the lights,” “what’s on my agenda tomorrow?,” and “navigate to the nearest newsagent”.

Google Assistant product director Gummi Hafsteinsson said adding conversational voice commands made sense as “conversations are the most natural interface we could think of”.

But he then conceded it could be creating a new problem with the younger generation, in particular.

“We’ve got to do something about that,” he said.

“A friend of mine posted on Facebook that his kids are starting to yell at them as parents ‘go, do this, do that, fetch me a sandwich’ because they’re learning through (computerised) assistants that that’s OK.

“It’s something we need to think about and take on as a challenge.”

Sage Group, a British multinational enterprise software company, artificial intelligence head Kriti Sharma said the issue could affect the way young computer users treat women, as many virtual assistants, including those from Google, Apple and Amazon, are programmed with “very typical female personas”.

While rudeness was an unintended consequence of adding voice services to phones and computers, she said ensuring children grow up with manners might rest with programmers in future as well as parents.

“If what it’s teaching the future generation of kids is you don’t have to say thank you and please and sorry any more, you just get what you want by saying it, it could drive human change and have some social impact,” Ms Sharma said.

“It also raises a point that as developers we need to care about that too, what kind of manners and social protocols they’re teaching and how do we redirect some of that.”

We had a chuckle over the weekend when my eight year old asked Siri to marry him. Her reply?  “I’m not the marrying type!”

You can actually have loads of fun with these functions. But I am totally hearing how easy it is for a child to then take that demand function into daily life.

Do your children use voice assistants? 

Share your comments below.

Image: Gettyimages

  • it is up to the parent to instill the good manners into a child. be their role model and teach them well! it is an important skill for life

    Reply

  • I don’t think these things are a big enough part of every day life to be a real issue

    Reply

  • I agree and can definitely see an impact. Siri should be made to not respond with an answer without being asked please. Manners go a long way. We have worked super hard with our kids to instil manners (they are 1.5 and have been saying please and thankyou for a long time now). Manners are one of the most attractive qualities in a person and it would be sad to see that lots to rudeness and demands

    Reply

  • This really is something to give a lot of thought too, I am aware that these are simply machines but all said and done we are adults and understand this but do children. If Siri etc are programmed to answer questions etc in a human voice then surely the programmers can add please, thank you and have a nice day.

    Reply

  • Has anybody else noticed how many parents make their children say please but don’t say please themselves? It always sounds to me parents aren’t asking, they are demanding – children learn by example and copy what their parents do.
    Don’t get me wrong – they have to do as they are told….but they forget to set them a good example. A lot of older kids don’t say thank you either. If you remind them you are likely to get one in a sarcastic tone of voice.

    Reply

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