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Cool New Technology

There is one final pretender to the throne of interaction design, and that is technology itself. Microsoft, in particular, is touting this false panacea. Microsoft says that interfaces will be easy to use as soon as it can perfect voice recognition and handwriting recognition. I think this is silly. Each new technology merely makes it possible to frustrate users with faster and more-powerful systems.

A key to better interaction is to reduce the uncertainty between computers and users. Natural-language processing can never do that because meanings are so vague in human conversation. So much of our communication is based on nuance, gesture, and inflection that although it might be a year or two before computers can recognize our words, it might be decades—if ever—before computers can effectively interpret our meaning.


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