Senior Full-Stack Developer at National Public Radio

Principled Product Development for Voice-Based Interfaces

Voice assistants are arguably the hottest consumer technology of 2018; if your employer hasn't already asked your product team to investigate building an application for voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomePod or Samsung's Bixby, they likely will soon. The technology is also finally reaching a place where this is a more realistic goal; the initial launches of the Alexa and Google Home platforms were primarily RSS feed parsers with a text-to-speech engine tacked on, but the technology has finally matured and is now able to support full-fledged custom "skills", or voice-based apps. But as with any new technology, we need to be responsible and consider the morality of what we build as we enter this new space.

This talk will discuss the ethics of developing applications for voice assistants and voice-based interfaces, based on the firsthand experiences of a software engineer at the United States-based National Public Radio, as her team has spent the past year doing a deep-dive into voice UI development. The audience will learn practical strategies for respecting privacy, dealing responsibly with user data, and designing for an audience that could include children in an unsupervised setting, as well as ponder the thought-provoking implications of issues such as perpetuating gender stereotypes through voice.

Nara Kasbergen

Nara Kasbergen is a Senior Full-Stack Developer in NPR’s (National Public Radio) Digital Media group, where she's worked on a variety of projects, most notably the third-party developer platform for NPR One. She is currently part of a skunkworks team researching the voice UI landscape and developing custom apps for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Though she has no noticeable accent, she hails from The Netherlands and lived in Munich, Houston, Pittsburgh, Tokyo, and New York City prior to settling down in Washington, DC. In her spare time, she satisfies her foodie habits by trying out all of the best restaurants in the city, collects board games, and watches too much Netflix.

You can follow Nara on Twitter.