Siri, artificial intelligence, and accessibility

The magic and frustration of voice assistants and artificial intelligence when it comes to accessibility. A lot has been said recently about Apple’s prospects in artificial intelligence and machine learning. One aspect of the discussion that I haven’t seen considered is the accessibility ramifications of artificial intelligence in assistants like Siri. (I focus on Siri because it’s the AI I have the most experience using.) I’ve long been a proponent of voice-driven interfaces as assistive technology, which makes Siri’s slow development all the more frustrating. This is particularly true when it comes to Siri understanding you if you have trouble speaking. The yin and yang of Siri — its obvious accessibility benefits combined with its obvious linguistic shortcomings — has left me feeling torn about its (and AI in general)…

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