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Review: “Computers Learn to Listen, and Some Talk Back” by Lohr and Markoff Essay


Lohr and Markoff’s article Computers Learn to Listen, and Some Talk Back is a must-read composition that strategically presents various arguments concerning the changing trends in use of computers. Nowadays, computers have changed the day-to-day lives of people. The potential of computer keeps on moving strides higher and higher with most business transactions and deals being done through computers.

Even as technology advances with scientists researching for the most advanced forms of technologies, there has been the failure to consider the plights of intellectuals and professors. The advancement of this technology is posing a threat to such people with high levels of skills especially in the education sector.

Many professors will be rendered jobless. Their relevance in the society will be of no use because students will have an opportunity to log in to the computers or learn everything that they want using computers.

The information present on the internet is enormous with a likelihood of making many of the professors and other people in the academic arena obsolete. Therefore, the paper critically examines the functionality of computer and its application in the day-to-day people’s interactions based on the views and opinions presented in the article.

Computer Functionality

The authors of the article express their optimism in computer technology. In the coming years, computers will replace human beings, as they will be used in solving problems and performing various tasks. Technology will function as an artificial intelligence because computers will have to understand what human beings say.

All countries are receiving these changes positively even to the extent of integrating them in their systems. The use of speech software among doctors in the developed countries like America has made it easier for doctors to communicate with their clients. However, such software has challenges. One of them is its inability to recognize and interpret some words. The risk may distort the meaning of the words communicated.

Other challenges that this computer software has is that it will eliminate millions of jobs and probably create many different ones besides changing the daily routines of people and the nature of how they work (Zhao, Sophia, & Mishra, 2001, p. 348). Computer intelligence technology is finding its way in almost all spheres of life. Most customer-call centers, hotline companies, and technical supports have made computer their listener.

When a customer calls, the computers identify the emotions and the issues that the customers is raising and relays this information to the specific assistant to provide a solution.

Furthermore, companies are able to identify the strategies of their competitors through such technologies, which help them to readjust their own strategies to remain competitive. Currently, technology is becoming the ideal way of doing businesses by ensuring a successful social life. Life cannot go on without technology.

People have become used to technology. This trend is still increasing. The authors in the article therefore indicate that, in the future, technology will be the overall way of life. People’s life will change drastically. Children will be communicating and responding towards technologies.

Therefore, the authors target the young generation and companies. These people must be acquainted with various technologies because technology will have to affect their way of doing things. Currently, there has been a progress in the way people adopt and use the computer technology.

So far, tremendous improvements have been witnessed with how people carry out their day-to-day transactions. The trend is not going back: it is advancing (Peters, 1995, p. 32). For instance, many companies that have call centers to attend customer issues are able to automate their machines to answer to the millions of queries across the world.

How Do the Authors Address the issue of Computer Functionality?

The framing of the title of the article, as used by the authors, enhances easier understanding of what they are discussing. The core issue or theme in the story is about the potential of technology and the advancement of technology. The world is moving at a faster rate in terms of technology advancement.

This is all they are trying to project in the story. They have provided salient examples and illustrations of how the computers are turning out to be listeners besides being able to talk.

Literally, computers or technologies that are used in the call centers and technical support are designed in a manner to listen or to decode what the callers are saying or transmitting this valuable information hence answering various queries (Berry, 2005, p. 399).

Therefore, the framing of the article is appealing. It is aimed at creating understanding as well as arousing the readers’ interest to dig deeper in the story to find out what it is all about. The message has also been presented in a well and objective manner.

The authors not only present the positive sides of embracing technology but also go ahead to talk about some implications that such advancements are likely to cause in the life of people. Firstly, it should be taken with cautions because these technologies may not be 100 % correct. It may not be able to satisfy or achieve the goals of its users. Some flaws will be factored in when using these technologies.

According to Bakardjieva (2003), technology such as the computer technology has many issues that need to be considered to ensure that it achieves its objectives (p. 133). One of the concerns is the sustainability of technology. It should be self-sustainable besides having an inbuilt security.

Many technologies are exposed to security threats. For instance, these technologies may lead someone to crack or hack into someone’s systems thus leading to information proliferation and hence a threat. Likewise, others allow people to hack into others databases, which may put the company’s confidential information at risk.

There are various claims made in the article by the authors relating to computers’ potentiality in the current times and in the future. The major claim is that these computers will be able to communicate with human beings because they will have the capability to hear, speak, learn, and reason.

The way machines and human being will collaborate and communicate with each other will be transformed. This transformation is likely to come with its consequences. The way people work and carry out their duties will have to change. Their conventional way of doing their businesses is also destined to change.

Scientists have not relented in their efforts of looking for software-artificial intelligence technologies to ensure that this becomes a reality. The word today is revolutioning as many parts of the country in the world have already put into test these technologies and found that they work.

Furthermore, there is a high attention directed to speech recognition technology. Even as this attention is directed to the technology, no body is looking at these software and technology limitations. More focus is drifted on the social implication of these technologies. Therefore, there is lack of balance on how people view and think about these technologies.


According to Murphy (1995), there are various social implications that come with these technologies (p. 336). These include issues concerning privacy of an individual and accessibility to information that is deemed confidential. These technologies are also a threat to social behaviors of the society if no adequate measures are instituted to guard against such misuse.

There has been a remarkable improvement in speech devices in the car industry, as well as hotels. For instance, in duration of three years, Ford Motor Company has seen a remarkable improvement in its speech software in its vehicles. One of the software is the Nuance that has improved, and now is able to recognize over 10,000 phrases and words from the earlier 100 words.

These systems are becoming popular in cars with many people liking them because of their enhanced security feature. Some of the successful areas that machines have triggered include in the area of banking where ATM machines are used to serve customers. They are efficient and convenient as opposed to standing in queues for service. Furthermore, in most of the call centers, automated machines have helped to enhance service delivery.

The increasing usefulness of artificial intelligence machines in answering questions, assisting professionals, and completing tasks form a clear indication that these machines are going to spread regardless of the risks that are inherent (Knyaz, Georgiadi, & Bogiv, 2012, p. 119).

It is apparent that, in the future, there will be a machine intelligence as opposed to human intelligence as machines will do most of the tasks. Even with this development, all sorts of errors and problems will be mandatory.

Therefore, human beings will be of great importance in correcting such errors to balance them. It is much better to have this artificial intelligence in place as opposed to not having it because it is of great assistance in the operation of the human activities. The fact that information system and invention of more intelligence technologies is on the course, there must be challenges that will come with it (Peters, 1995, p. 32).

People will not see the essence of sitting in a class to be given lectures by their professors since such information will be easily available in the internet. Therefore, the authors of the article have not been able to reason on this wavelength.

According to Brantlinger (2003), there are changing relationships that are happening among intellectuals, media, and public, which are complicated by the coming of new technologies (p. 124). This therefore makes the public intellectuals to experience or witness a renaissance.

Renaissance may not be out of the picture because of the potentiality of the internet and computers due to their broad communicative access, interactivity, ubiquity, and democratic potential. Furthermore, many computers and the internet technologies are mostly aligned on commercial interest.

Capitalism is the major focus driving most of these technologies. Many services and functions provided by these technologies are aimed at increasing the profitability of the companies or people who invent them.

Take an example of a call centers. This technology has enabled many customers to raise their queries besides seeking for more clarification on various issues affecting them. The companies providing these technologies aim at making a catch to make them continue using their products for their benefits (Heath, 2005, p. 66).

Weakness of the Article in addressing the Thesis

Technology has a wide scope since various issues concern it. The article has only delved on the ways of improving technology to enable it function more or less as human beings. Machines have an artificial intelligence, which is able to perform tasks that otherwise would have been performed by many people.

Therefore, it is a fundamental discovery in the life of many. However, the authors have not explained in depth the requirements and the benefits of such technologies. Furthermore, they have not provided the readers with the likely consequences that are associated with such technologies.

For the article to be good and appeal more to the audience, they could have gone a little far to explain some of the limitations that adoption of such technologies will have on the users. The world is moving forward with everyone being concerned about technological advancements. Companies are competing to come up with the most sophisticated software to beat others in the market.

These issues need to be addressed. The effects of such technology on the users and even on the environment should come into perspective. Furthermore, the consequences such machines will have on people and the general living standards of people should come into perspective.

It is understandable that there is no technology that is error-free (Cooper, Javier & Woo, 1994, p. 371). The magnitude of these errors should be closely investigated to ensure that they do not arouse suspicion among the users.

Challenges Facing Technology Functionality

There are various challenges that the advancement of technology causes or is likely to cause to people. One of the challenges is dealing with the issues of insecurity in the technologies (Rutenbeck, 2000, p. 30). As some technologies advance, scientists are finding ways to disrupt them.

For instance, there are some software that have been created, which are able to allow individuals to hack and gain accessibility to persons’ confidential information in their database. These are some of the issues that need to be addressed to ensure that technology is secure.

Furthermore, implication that concerns the effects of political, economic, and social consequences should be addressed. Technology, if not well scrutinized, is likely to be used in a wrongful way, for example, in perpetuating crimes and immoral behaviors.

Another challenge related to the development of these technologies, artificial intelligence machines, for instance, is that they are prone to errors. Therefore, because they are operated and advanced by men, they will require a close attention to ensure that they continue to provide best services.

Therefore, these machines cannot supersede the intelligence for human beings because it is them who programmed and came up with software and programs that are able to execute various services and or tasks. Major forces evidenced in this article are aimed at promoting and supporting new technologies.

The authors are optimistic that machine artificial intelligence is the best way to go in order to attain positive results. Individuals and organizations should adapt these technologies because of the perceived benefits they have on the individuals as well as on the economy.

The most important contribution of technology is its ability to enhance efficient and effective performance of tasks besides increasing the level of production of companies and organizations (Knyaz, S., Georgiadi, N., & Bogiv, 2012, p. 119).

According to Grossman and Zuckerberg (2010), technology is important because it helps to reduce costs. Therefore, organizations that adapt it are better placed to increase their productivity besides cutting the cost of production. They are likely to have economies of scale (Para. 3). Therefore, many organizations that have the capacity to install technology in their operations should not relent.

Most of the people have accessibility to technology through their phones and laptops. Therefore, many people are able to transact their businesses on the internet. Advertising and marketing products over the internet is therefore a good strategy to reach many potential buyers across borders.

It has a positive impact on companies’ production and revenue through their increased level of sales. Therefore, the authors should have considered the potentials, which the technology has in terms of widening or expanding the market of the producers besides increasing productivity in the companies and individuals.


Technology has become an integral part of human beings in their lives. Therefore, with the changing social systems, it is very important for people to understand various issues that concern these technologies to be able to use them appropriately.

The society, for instance, should know that these technologies are not advanced or adopted for misuse but rather to help in promoting co-existence of people besides facilitating operations (Grahame, 2009, p. 31). Therefore, some of the meaningful linkages that can be explored in this courses concern proper use of technology in fostering positive relationships and economic growth in the country.

Computers are useful when well used especially in furthering the interests and needs of the people. However, it may not be effective if it is used to cause harm to others. Therefore, the society at a large has the responsibility of endeavoring to know the uses and applications of technology in a useful and positive manner.

People’s lifestyles are always changing. Therefore, people should not allow technology to influence them. They need to use it sparingly in meeting their goals and ends.


In conclusion, the rate at which artificial technology necessitated by machines is moving is raising concerns. As the authors of the article, ‘Computers Learn to Listen and Some Talk Back’ argue, it is going to move at rapid pace. However, what is needed is caution in its adoption. There are various flaws and problems that will emerge and which need to be corrected by human beings to ensure that it provides better services.

Therefore, as technology moves and advances, the society should be cautious while employing it in use for their benefits but not for their destruction. Therefore, as pointed out in the paper, computer functionality has largely taken the roles that were being played by people before their invention.

Tasks that took hours to accomplish are taking only a fraction of a second. However, there are several implications and challenges that the technology has, which people need to be aware of as discussed in the paper with the most significant being that of depriving many people of their jobs as the computers take over.

Reference List

Bakardjieva, M. (2003). What Knowledge? Whose Fingertips? Negotiating and Serving Diverse Identities. Information Technology, Canadian Ethnic Studies, 35(3), 133-149.

Berry, W. (2005). Local Knowledge in the Age of Information. Hudson Review, 58(3), 399-410.

Brantlinger, P. (2003). Professors and Public Intellectuals in the Information Age: An Interdisciplinary. Journal of Jewish Studies, 21(3), 122-137.

Cooper, A., Javier, G., & Woo, C. (1994). Initial human and financial capital as predictors of new venture performance. Journal of Business Venturing, 9(5), 371–395.

Grahame, J. (2009). Changing Ads: Envisaging Media Study in the Post-Digital Age, English Drama Media, 14(1), 31-36.

Grossman, L., & Zuckerberg, M. (2010). Person of the Year 2010. Time Magazine. Retrieved from

Heath, M. (2005). Are You Ready to Go Digital? The Pros and Cons of Electronic Portfolio Development. Library Media Connection, 23(7), 66-70.

Knyaz, S., Georgiadi, N., & Bogiv, Y. (2012). Business planning innovative projects: the essence of technology, advantages and disadvantages. IN: Marketing ì Menedžment Innovacìj, 3(2), 199.

Murphy, J. (1995). Communication in the information age: a critique, ETC. A Review of General Semantics, 52(3), 336-343.

Peters, E. (1995). Information age avatars.(cover story). Library Journal, 120(5), 32-35.

Rutenbeck, J. (2000). The 5 Great Challenges of the Digital Age. Library Journal, 125(14), 30.

Zhao, Y., Sophia, H., & Mishra, P. (2001). Technology. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 44(4), 348.

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