RAEBURN: Now, I'm betting you have a real reason, besides the fact that we can barely understand what he says sometimes, for saying that he's - wouldn't be very good at GPS.
But before you answer that, let me just remind people I'm Paul Raeburn. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR News. All right…
Dr. NASS: Okay…
RAEBURN: …so why would Dylan be a bad idea?
Dr. NASS: The problem is that our brains are built that when we hear a voice, we associate with that voice - especially if it's a person's voice we know - all the characteristics and benefits and negatives associated with that voice.
Now when it comes to navigation, we want someone who's known as being very precise, who's careful, who is ...view middle of the document...
So we've been doing research on how we can get people to be more accepting of that. We've also been doing research on number of voice issues, what voices are good for various activities, including navigation. And, also, a lot of work on new systems for recommendations, how can computers and Web sites more effectively recommend to people.
RAEBURN: Okay, we'll get into as many of those as we can. But we now have the phones back, ta-da. And so, I'm going to take a couple of calls now on multitasking. We're jumping around a little bit here. But let me see what we got. Jesse(ph), are you there?
JESSE (Caller): Yeah, I'm here.
RAEBURN: Go ahead.
JESSE: Just fascinating topic, super interested in this. And I got many questions, but I'll only ask one. I noticed when I was in school many, many years ago, in college, that I had trouble sitting in a lecture and trying to learn the material and take notes at the same time. And this has transferred over into the work world in meetings, you know, etc. Some people seem to be really good at this, and other folks, like myself, are terrible at it. It seems to be that even while I'm focused on this one task or project, I have a tough time, you know, keeping - while multitasking or keeping attention, I guess.
RAEBURN: Let me stop you, Jesse, because we're moving up to a break. But go ahead, Clifford Nass, give him a quick answer if you can, please.
Dr. NASS: So, the quick answer is, people who seem to be very good at, for example, sitting in a meeting and doing emails, etc., are actually very bad at it. As far as the first question, we haven't specifically studied task-related multitasking - that is, writing and learning them and taking notes. But we certainly know that people who are sitting in lectures and texting, chatting, friending, you know, Facebooking, etc., are not doing very well.
RAEBURN: Let me pause for a moment. We'll be right back after this short break.
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RAEBURN: From NPR News, this is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Paul Raeburn.
We're talking with Clifford Nass, professor of sociology at Stanford University about multitasking, and machine and human communication, and all kinds of interesting things.
Let me take a call from - let's see here, we've got Brian(ph) on Long Island. Do I have you?
BRIAN (Caller): Yes, you do.
BRIAN: Thank you for taking my call.
RAEBURN: Yeah. Go ahead, Brian.
BRIAN: Dr. Nass, the question is that when people are multitasking, what is their ability to accomplish tasks successfully? Do they have a greater success rate or a lesser success rate?
Dr. NASS: They actually have a lesser success rate, which has been established numerous times. What our results are showing is that if they're frequently multitasking, not only do they have a lower success rate when they're multitasking, they actually have a lower success rate when they are not multitasking.
BRIAN: Interesting. The reason why I ask that is that I find that in multitasking,...