Browsing with Alexa: interrogating the impact of voice assistants as web interfaces
journal contributionposted on 07.12.2020, 11:21 by Simone Natale, Henry Cooke
Voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have recently been the subject of lively debates in regard to issues such as artificial intelligence, surveillance, gender stereotypes, and privacy. Less attention, however, has been given to the fact that voice assistants are also web interfaces that might impact on how the web is accessed, understood and employed by web users. This article aims to advance work in this context by identifying a range of issues that should spark additional reflections and discussions within communication and media studies and related fields. In particular, the article focuses on three key issues that have to do with longstanding discussions about the social and political impact of the internet: the role of web platforms in shaping information access, the relationship between production and consumption online, and the role of affect in informing engagement with web resources. Considering these issues in regard to voice assistants not only helps contextualize these technologies within existing debates in communication and media studies, but also highlights that voice assistants pose novel questions to internet research, challenging assumptions of what the web looks like as speech becomes one of the key ways to access resources and information online.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media