People use speech to interact with one another in a seemingly effortless way. From an early age we speak in order to convey our wishes, express our opinions and ask questions. The ability to use written language comes later and is something that has to be taught rather than being acquired spontaneously. Conversely, when we interact with computers we use either some advanced form of written communication, as in programming languages, or a complex set of iconic symbols that we activate with a pointing device such as a mouse. Speech would seem to be the most natural way to interact with a computer, yet it is only recently that speech-based communication with computers has become possible.
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