In early February, colleagues of the BBC tech desk tasked Kevin Rawlinson to test a selection of apps in Bilbao in the Spanish Basque Country by completing the following to-do list:
- Get to Guggenheim museum and find out what is its most highly insured work of art
- Get to Moyua metro station and ask someone there the best way to get to Plaza Nueva
- In Plaza Nueva find someone to tell the story of their first kiss
- Find Gili-Gili and ask someone inside to take a selfie posing with you and an item sold there
- Catch a taxi to Cafeteria Concha and, when you arrive, ask what their bestselling pintxo is
- Go to the city’s bullfighting museum and ask the staff inside how many people the bullring could hold when full and when the original was destroyed
- Buy a one euro stamp and postcard and send it to the Tech team
As Rawlinson found, you have to know who you are talking to, a speech recognizer, a machine. “And, in some cases, they simply promise more than they can deliver.”
The overall experience is probably best summed up by the last few sentences of the BBC story:
Eventually, I bought a stamp and card to send back to London. But not before Google Translate managed to maul this last request.
“I speak English,” the bemused card salesman said, finally putting me out of my tech-induced misery.
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