I met Kelly tonight. Kelly is Restaurant Brands' automated ordering system, using Natural Speech Language Recognition technology.
The experience of ordering a pizza through Kelly is quite strange for someone like me (who has never used that kind of service before.) Basically, you speak your order and the system automagically recognises your responses, generates the order, and even takes your credit card details. All without the intervention of a human.
Of course, Kelly isnt true inline speech recognition. Each response is a one word response to her question. In fact, during the whole order, I only used a single word of more than one syllable. Supreme.
Speaking to Kelly reminded me of the mock trial brought together by Martine Rothblatt last year. She proposed the scenario of a corporate building a sentient computer, and then wanting to dismantle it. BINA48, the computer at the center of the trial, had been moonlighting as a Google Experts researcher and had amassed almost $10,000 in her PayPal account. (BINA48 had chosen to adopt a female persona.) In this instance, the judge and jury ruled that dismantling BINA48's systems amounted to a battery against her, and granted a preliminary injunction against Exabyte, the fictitious corporate that was the defendant in the case.
As Kelly reaches more customers, and Restaurant Brands excecutives authorise more RnD funding to improve her systems, we may yet see a similar scenario. Natural Speech Language Recognition already depends heavily on AI. What if Kelly's software team implemented the ability for her to learn based on experiences with customers? What if a customer convinced her she should seek citizenship?
An interesting idea, nothing more.. yet.