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First thing, the idea of voice recognition in a cubicle farm isn't nice. I'm stealing an example from someone else in the days of DOS, but imagine a guy talking to the technical guru who happens to be a bit loud... "How do I wipe my hard disk?", "format c:", "are you sure", "yes" (everyone in the room starts screaming). As for why voice recognition isn't progressing any more, I think the problem is older than it looks. No-one has been even trying to improve voice recognition for years. What they've been working on is statistics. This is most likely the be followed by that, yada yada. This can help improve the results from actual voice recognition to a point, but some time you have to improve the underlying voice recognition too. The stats aren't magic - they need something to work with.
One thing about movies is although the writers may want to send a positive message, that message won't get out there if it isn't believable. It may be subconscious, but there is usually some kind of truth hidden in there - just not what it appears to be on the surface. In groundhog day, Phil eventually succeeded because (1) he impressed Rita indirectly, by impressing everyone else, and (2) he had decades of experience to develop the knowledge and abilities and experience he needed to impress everyone else. Of course was also relaxed, natural and happy that last day - but that's a social status symbol too (hard to be relaxed and happy if you're under stress and not coping). Also, it only emphasizes just how much practice he'd had finding helpful things to do, learning the piano, and generally impressing people. Groundhog day had that superficial nice message, but it was believable precisely because it wasn't nice at all. Intuition isn't magic. Rita wasn't some superior being. We're supposed to believe Phil changed, but we only saw one good day after however many years of failure. Rita was fooled by one good day and the fact that he impressed lots of other people during that, for her, single 24 hour period. As for intuition - it's not magic. It's information processing in the brain. Even expert systems developers have found that it's usually a lot easier to invent a heuristic solution that'll probably work than to justify that solution rationally. Evolution had the same issue to deal with. But rely on intuition and to a large extent you're relying on the cro-magnon instinct. Just because it more-or-less worked for cro-magnons doesn't mean it'll work here and now, and a lot of the cro-magnon solutions really weren't very nice.
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Jul 30, 2010