Is technology changing the way we speak?

In this episode, we'll explore how technology is changing the way we communicate. But much more than that, we're going to be looking at how it's actually changing our relationship with language itself.

Ever since the first pictograms which date way back over 5000 years, we've been searching for technologies to communicate with each other in more widespread, more efficient ways. The printing press, the telegram, the telephone, and the internet have all evolved into what we're now using today: live streaming; chatbots; VR and AR technologies and, of course, social media. The thing is, the pace of change has grown remarkably in recent decades. We're more connected than ever.

And nothing is changing that faster than AI, in particular generative AI. It’s a core area of interest for HPE Chief Technologist, Matt Armstrong-Barnes. He can see the incredible potential for globe-spanning communication that AI brings, from instant translation to live captioning, but he’s also wary of taking the human out of the loop and losing the important context, nuance and difference that makes language so special and effective.

That’s also a challenge for Courtney Napoles. She’s Linguistic Engineering Director at Grammarly, an AI-enabled software platform which aids human writing. Despite being a tech firm with a strong machine learning underpinning, they rely on humans in the loop to ensure that communication remains effective for us, rather than trying to pull us towards homogenised, machine-learning inspired writing styles.

The rise in assistive technology is having unintended benefits, too – in particular, it’s opening up the door to greater representation in the workplace, and bridging communication barriers when it comes to accessibility needs. Rob Koch is a data engineer and principal at Slalom Build, and heads the group Deaf In The Cloud Dot Com. He’s seen a remarkable breaking down of barriers in the last few years as technology has enabled him to communicate more effectively with colleagues and customers. There’s a way to go, but he’s optimistic about the future.

And speaking of the future, where are we headed next? Leslie Shannon is Nokia’s head of trend scouting. She’s keeping a keen eye on the way we communicate and the language we use, and is seeing a stark generational shift away from text and towards video and augmented reality solutions, embracing the additional context that body language and gesture can add to traditional, ‘flat’ conversations – and changing the way we speak to our tech and the language we use in the process.

Statistics and sources cited in this episode:
Global communications market value:
US communcations market value:
Size of the Digital Acessibility market:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise