by Jaclyn Trop, Fortune
Inching down the freeway, a driver realizes she’s forgotten her weekend plans and asks her digital copilot to check her calendar. Within seconds, a voice emanates from the car’s speakers telling the driver that she has RSVP’d to a friend’s birthday party and then suggesting a gift—a Detroit Lions jersey.
The entire process ends less than two minutes after the driver asks the digital assistant to order the jersey. Meanwhile, the dialogue inside the car is sent to a distant data center, ready to be mined for ads pitching an NFL game, even though the driver dislikes football.
Once clunky and buggy, voice-recognition technology is improving and quickly spreading to the dashboard, allowing drivers to issue a wider range of commands using natural speech. Designed to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, “personal assistants” powered by artificial intelligence can perform a variety of functions, from managing calendars to placing Amazon Prime orders.