Almost all visions of “the future” include computers that we can talk to. Something about language seems central to our understanding of intelligence, and often it is taken as a given that intelligent machines will be conversant with humans.
Technology is becoming smarter. Our phones talk back to us, our Netflix accounts make custom movie recommendations, and soon enough, our cars will be able to drive themselves. Some of the decisions our machines make will be trivial (such as which movie to watch), but many will be more impactful on our lives. For example, self-driving cars will need to decide when to change lanes, which routes to take, or even how to avoid an accident. As users, we must determine whether we think these are the right decisions; thus, an essential element of our relationship with machines is the level of trust we place in those machines.