So Bill Gates has said that he expects us to be doing internet searches using voice recognition software within five years. Maybe he should first tell his technicians to begin perfecting that software so it can recognize such phrases as ‘big boobs’ and ‘h0t teh sexx0rz’ in a hundred different ways (including whispering so the people in the other room won’t hear you!). Or maybe they’ll just make a touchpad button that does that for you.
Somehow I’m not sure we should expect the computer to understand every single word we say, particularly when you consider how many times you have to ask somebody to repeat what they just said (and if you’re like me, that’s an awful lot). Ever wonder why everybody talks so clearly in Star Trek? They never show you the ‘please repeat last command’ scenes.
Of course, we’ve all been using the inefficient QWERTY keyboard instead of the more efficient Dvorak, a holdover from the days of mechanical typewriters that would jam up if you typed too fast. Not that it’s easy to learn a keyboard in the first place, though typing does seem a bit faster than writing (unless perhaps you’re using shorthand).
While touch screens would simplify things a little, I don’t think we’ll get to the point where a keyboard-like interface is a thing of the past and we all wear multi-purpose bluetooth headsets for talking to computers. I personally don’t relish the idea of dictating 70,000 word essays to a computer (though doing so would certainly change the way we make literature) though I do think our input devices and interfaces could be made more efficient.