The Voicebot Chronicles: KQED Interactive Series Comes to Alexa and Google Assistant

The Voicebot Chronicles is a groundbreaking interactive series about navigating a world where humans are increasingly talking with machines — and machines are talking back.

If you’ve ever used your voice to communicate with a digital device and found yourself struggling to be understood, you are not alone. And you might have questions.

Why doesn’t the machine grasp what I’m saying to it? Is it just machines that don’t understand me? What about other people? And who is this Alexa/Google/Siri character anyway?

The Voicebot Chronicles is an experiment; you might think of it as an interactive podcast. It features both in-depth reporting and interaction, and can be experienced using Alexa or Google Assistant. You don’t just listen to The Voicebot Chronicles, you also are a part of it.

You’ll hear from experts who are at the forefront of understanding conversation and technology, like:

  • Dimitri Kanevsky, a research scientist dedicated to inventing speech technology for people with hearing and speech impairments;
  • Cathy Pearl, head of conversational design outreach at Google who studies what it takes to have a good conversation and why it’s not as simple as we think; and
  • Zhou Yu, a UC Davis computer scientist who leads the student team behind Gunrock, an Amazon Alexa Prize Challenge-winning voicebot.

Plus, you’ll get the chance to test how well your voicebot understands you, what it takes to make a conversation work and why you do or don’t connect with your voicebot on a more personal level.

Be prepared to talk, and remember: You might not always be understood.

To experience the The Voicebot Chronicles on Alexa, say “Alexa, open The Voicebot Chronicles.” You can also find it here on the Amazon Marketplace.

On Google Assistant, say “Hey Google, talk to The Voicebot Chronicles" or here on the Google Assistant directory.

Estimated experience time: 20 minutes.