Thought of space exploration’s increasingly depressing given the industry’s continual failings. Only today comes criticism of Nasa on safety. We’ve only just heard that Beagle 2 was always doomed and Cosmos 1 will never sail on solar winds.
So it’s with some surprise that I hear that the next generation of International Space Station computers are to be voice controlled. They’ll speak too, but I suspect comparisons with 2001’s HAL are wide of the mark, if my own recent experiences with state-of-the-art speech recognition software are anything to go by.
I made the mistake of booking Batman Begins by phone and hung-up twice to start over it was so bad. ‘Speech recognition software by Telephonetics.co.uk’ it boasts. And before long I’m saying ‘yes… yeeesss… yeah-ss’ et cetera and ‘Batman… Bat Man… Batman Begins… Bat Man Be Gins’. Bring back ‘press one to make a booking’ before some poor astronaut’s last words are ‘Hard ta port… Hard to port… Hard. To. Port… Turn Left… Left… Hard left…’ [repeat to fade].