Friday, May 11, 2018

This Friday I’d like to take a break from leadership and draw your attention to the rise of voice assistants.

A little over one year ago I called out Burger King’s forcible augmentation of your reality with its “OK Google” TV ad. Yesterday we learned that it’s now possible for malicious actors to send verbal commands to your voice assistant that are inaudible to you. (I’m talking to you Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant). Finally, there is evidence that voice assistants have already penetrated the executive suite in a significant way. If I had a Red Alert button, I’d be pounding it right now.

I’m a self-professed technophile who believes that technology can be a transformative force for good in our world. And yet… I find it discomfiting that we are rapidly cocooning ourselves in technologies that may be compromised in ways that we haven’t fully considered and don’t totally understand. We are in the very first stages of figuring out what a world with voice assistants looks like and there are a great many reasons for us to encourage this development. Despite its rapid advance, though, voice assistance is a nascent and still-developing technology subject to exploitation, perversion and abuse. My concern has been raised… and yours should be too.

Finally, and on a totally different subject, thank you to everyone who nominated me for consideration within the “Best Executive Coach” category for the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal’s 2018 Reader Rankings. I’m honored to be considered and if you’d like to vote in any of the categories, I encourage you to cast your votes here.