The Future Obsolescence of Human Voice

We depend greatly on voice but as new technologies arrive we are discovering new efficient channels for transmitting the same data. I dream of a day when I won’t be interrupted by voice. Unless I’ve tacitly agreed to have a conversation I do not welcome the demands that voice imposes.

Why voice is overrated

  • Voice is intrusive. While we communicate with phones, webcams, and so on, we are also interfering with those present around us (who most likely do not appreciate this intrusion of space.)

  • Voice is demanding, it requires both participants to be present at the time the communication takes place (for best results.)

  • Voice is public and unsafe. It is basically screaming your secrets all around you. Think buses, parks, offices, bus shelters, waiting rooms, ticket lines… all of them places where spying can be easily done. Banks, service providers, etc, constantly ask for sensitive information to identify users on the phone. Credit Card numbers, Social Security numbers, even if it is as simple as name and address, it is still data that you wouldn’t volunteer to strangers.

Obsolescence or Death

Many are speculating about the death of the written form” and meanwhile voice is also becoming obsolete; it is both slow to produce and to listen to. Other mediums such as text or image (static and moving) are more quick and efficient. When measuring information density voice is at the bottom of the scale with the smallest amounts of data transmitted per time unit.

Fortunately for many of us, more and more communication channels are making voice a secondary option. Ironically, Google Voice (the giant’s attempt at becoming a wireless provider) is actually reducing our dependency on voice with alternatives such as voice messages sent as text via sms or email.

Obviously this is not the death of voice (yet) but a shift on its use from highly functional towards more entertaining: social connections, education and entertainment among other might always depend on verbal communications. We want closeness and ease of communication but we don’t want to be forced to human interactions beyond our control.

February 24, 2010 ☼ futurethoughts