Nandini Stocker: Bridging the Gap to the SciFi promise of voice

Why do we care about conversational interfaces? And why could they change everything about your brand? Google's Nandini Stocker explains…

Nandini Stocker is head of conversation design, advocacy and partnerships at Google

WARNING: Live-blogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. Post will be updated over the next few days.

There’s so many scifi ideas we could talk about. There’s so many that are coming true – or not. But we’ll talk about the voice interface, about talking to our devices.

But first, ;et’s talk about the elephant in the room. Let’s talk about the EU and Germany, and the US, and data and free speech. And how do we talk about that elephant?

We have an opportunity in this room to commit to conversations. We can commit to engage. Conversations are built with scaffolding that’s called context. But you need one foundation: trust. Trust needs too be declared: I need to know who I’m talking to, and that we care about the same things.

We need a declaration of privacy for everyone in the room. Black background slides are free reign, but “parchment” background slides are to be kept within the room. They are pictures of her children, she doesn’t want shared everywhere. *(This liveblog will write around the details of that section, as you’ll see below.)*

She was born a German citizen, to German parents, both from Hamburg. She feels a little like the canary in the coal mine in Google, because her job brings her in contact with people’s concerns. She cares deeply about the issues people raise about privacy, and she’s been trying to change Google from within. In Poland she had a conversation with a world leader friend, who made it plain that if Google didn’t fix its issues, they would be fixed for them.

Why do we want to talk to our devices? Well, as a species, we’ve been talking for 100,000 years. It’s also once of the first communication skills we develop as individuals. Yes, we invented writing along the way, but we actually reshaped our language to allow it to happen. We’re throwing huge amounts of technology at enabling that most basic of skill: talking.

But it’s coming.

Things take longer to happen than you think they will, and then they happen faster than you ever thought they could.

— Al Gore

Personality is character

In the future, voice is your brand. We connect with things and people around us for a reason. We anthropomorphise things for a reason. Making eye contact makes people happy. Seeing eyes in things makes us happy. Connecting with people makes us happy.

And then she tells us a story — a story about one of her children. About discovering a passion, and navigating to a deeper knowledge of it via a Google Doodle and Google Home. And Google Assistant was imperfect – but it go the child to where they were going.

The voice is the interface – and is the brand. The way your brand engages in conversationis the brand.