Will writing and reading mainly be a thing of the past in the electronically advanced countries by 2050?
William Crossman, founder of the Institute for the Study of Talking Computers and Oral Cultures, told the World Future Society, Bethesda, Md. "We're witnessing the beginning of an earthshaking transformation of human society away from print culture and toward oral culture."Reading and writing was once an efficient and much-needed technology for storing and retrieving information, he notes, but it will eventually be replaced by user-friendly computers that respond to our voices and tell us what we want to know.
I do not believe that Crossman is correct about this. The written word (whether on paper or on the computer screen) is a much better store of knowledge than the spoken word. Even if computers one day have great voice recognition and speech capacities, it will still be better to read information from the computer screen.
The reason for this is that it is much easier to process and understand complex information when it is in writing than when it is spoken. It is too easy to miss a word or a sentence in listening and then have a hard time understanding. If you are reading, you can simply go back to where you were before. This is less easily done when listening.
We must also think about the logistics of this. There is no way that people will be in offices all listening to their computers talk to them. It would be chaotic if they did not have headphones and inconvenient if they always had to wear headphones to listen to the computer because they would be unable to interact with colleagues as easily.
I think that there is a place for voice recognition, but I do not think it will change us from a written to an oral society.