The Machines Are Listening

Computers can't take dictation, but they may already understand speech well enough to take your job

In its television debut on ABC's Good Morning America, Casper the talking (and listening) computer was everything one would expect of a digital servant -- friendly, eager to please but slightly hard of hearing. Morning host Joan Lunden, demonstrating Casper's capabilities on an Apple Macintosh computer, was able to persuade the system to program her VCR simply by talking into a microphone -- although she had to repeat "Casper, accept program!" several times before the machine finally got the message. When the technology is perfected, say Apple executives, computers will be able to act on their human masters' every command, whether...

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