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能与你聊天的“虚拟助手”
Talking to technology

[2018年7月9日] 来源:BBC 随身英语(Take away English)   字号 [] [] []  

近来,一种能和人交谈的新技术变得越来越受欢迎。这种被称为“虚拟助手”的产品可以在我们的手机、电脑甚至是智能扬声器上找的到。它们可以给我们提供有用、琐碎的信息,但这些能和我们聊天的“助手”会取代并成为和我们日夜促膝长谈的挚友吗?本集《随身英语》讨论虚拟助手技术给我们日常生活带来的变化。


调整语速:

It's good to have friends that we can talk to and share our thoughts and opinions with. More importantly, they're people we can ask for help or advice. But recently it seems, many of us are developing a new relationship with a mystery person that we'll never meet!

I'm talking about virtual assistants or bots. These are pieces of software that we can talk to and it can talk back to us. Examples include Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. It might be on your phone or computer or even a smart speaker in your home. They are changing the way we interact with technology - instead of typing on a computer keyboard or tapping on a tablet, we can now speak and a voice will answer.

The people behind these voices are called conversation designers. Tom Hewitson is one of them. He told the BBC "this is kind of changing [computers] into like an agent. They’re an active participant in the interaction and in guiding you to make the right decision." So he's saying this cutting-edge technology has the ability to think for itself and make its own decisions.

It is a scary thought that this virtual voice can think for you – will it stop us using our own brains and will we lose the ability to write things down or type? They are certainly clever, helping you to book train tickets, give you the latest weather news or even tell you a joke. But are they really your new best friend?

One thing we can't do yet is to make chit-chat or small talk with it. We have to alter the way we speak. As Tom Hewitson says "We will develop our own kind of vernacular for speaking with machines that will be subtly different from how we speak to other people… It can be much more brusque and to the point."

But there's no doubt this technology will soon be commonplace in our lives. This year Google Duplex was revealed, described by the company as artificial intelligence "for accomplishing real-world tasks over the phone". It's a type of chatbot that will allow you to, for example, chat to your hairdresser about when they can fit you in for a cut. Other companies are working on similar things. But before they perfect this new technology, don't forget who your real friends are!

词汇表

virtual assistant 虚拟助手
bot(能自动执行搜索任务的)网上机器人程序
software 软件
smart speaker 智能扬声器
interact 交流,互动
conversation designer 对话设计师
agent (=something that causes change) 作用剂,动因
cutting-edge 最新的,尖端的
think for itself 独立思考
chit-chat 聊天,闲谈
small talk 闲聊
vernacular 方言,白话
brusque 无礼的,唐突的
commonplace 司空见惯的事情
artificial intelligence (AI) 人工智能
real-world task 现实生活中的真实任务
chatbot 聊天机器人

测验与练习

1. 阅读课文并回答问题。

1. How do you communicate with a virtual assistant?

2. Give an example of something, mentioned in this article, that this new technology can do for you.

3. True or false: We can talk to virtual assistants the same way we talk to our friends.

4. Why does the author fear that we may eventually stop using our brains?

5. Which verb used in the text means 'make something completely free from faults'?

2. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

1. It's hard to ______ with the teacher because I have to sit at the back of the class.

inactive       interact       interacted      interacting

2. Making contactless payments used to be quite unusual but now it's ______.

real-world      agent      commonplace      cutting-edge

3. The train information screens are not working today because there is a problem with the ______.

software      artificial intelligence       agent      chatbot

4. This new driverless car really demonstrates ______ technology.

edge-cutting      cutting-edges      cut-edges      cutting-edge             

5. The local ______ was very different from what I had learnt at school so I couldn't understand what people were saying. 

vernacular      chatbot      brusque      chit-chat

答案

1. 阅读课文并回答问题。

1. How do you communicate with a virtual assistant?
You talk to it / you use your voice.

2. Give an example of something, mentioned in this article, that this new technology can do for you.
They can book train tickets, give you the latest weather news or even tell you a joke.

3. True or false: We can talk to virtual assistants the same way we talk to our friends. 
False. Tom Hewitson, conversation designer, was quoted as saying "We will develop our own kind of vernacular for speaking with machines that will be subtly different from how we speak to other people.

4. Why does the author fear that we may eventually stop using our brains?
Because the new virtual assistants are able to think for themselves and make decisions.

5. Which verb used in the text means 'make something completely free from faults'?
The word is 'perfect'. "Other companies are working on similar things but before they perfect this new technology, don't forget who your real friends are!"

2. 请在不参考课文的情况下完成下列练习。选择一个意思合适的单词填入句子的空格处。

1. It's hard to interact with the teacher because I have to sit at the back of the class.

2. Making contactless payments used to be quite unusual but now it's commonplace.

3. The train information screens are not working today because there is a problem with the software.

4. This new driverless car really demonstrates cutting-edge technology.

5. The local vernacular was very different from what I had learnt at school so I couldn't understand what people were saying.

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