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AI-powered communication coach (poised.com)
135 points by lhuser123 12 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 82 comments

This looks really exciting but I want to warn that this fulfills the following criteria:

- feels to good to be free

- it targets a problem that we all sense and fear when we interact with other people

- the privacy and security policy is legally invalid in California and the EU (missing both is quite weird as they’re very well known privacy standards)

- the email address listed inside the privacy and security policy is invalid

Before trying their service I attempted to request a proper privacy policy via their listed email address which returns me an error saying that this address doesn’t exist.

As Slack is listed as a company that backs this service, I just reached out to their support team to cross-check the authenticity of this new service. This is getting exciting..

it’s not slack listed as a company but rather “professionals from”…

> Trusted by professionals from

This is a growing trend I’ve noticed - it’s a bit of a fake call to legitimacy

(It’s also virtually impossible to prove or disprove when it’s a large company!)

Some companies strictly forbid using their logos in this form (I worked for one). A takedown notice is sent at first sight.

It works, but makes sponsoring open source, events, etc a lot more painful due to the approvals needed.

Sounds a bit like they are a startup with very limited time and resources to me. I hope they haven't outright lied about endorsements, however they are building something I quite like the look of and would find personally useful (especially after the horrors of my terrible YC application video), however it looks very expensive to run... I think free is a bit of a worry but it also implies they might not have built that bit yet. Let's see if they show up in the comments to assuage your concerns.

It's pretty clear what/who the product is here ...

If this was a downloadable offline app, I'd be happy to give it a try. But uploading deepfake training data into the cloud? No thanks.

I'm glad there are people out there like you to keep people honest but man, I could never imagine doing what you've just outlined.

Looks like an interesting tool from the landing page. When I tried to create an account with Google it asked for fairly expansive permissions:

- See and download any calendar you can access using your Google Calendar

- See, edit, share, and permanently delete all the calendars you can access using Google Calendar

Are all these needed? Why would you need to delete a calendar from my account?

When permissions are grouped together like that by bullet, it's usually because Google's API only has 1 scope that covers all those actions (per bullet). My guess is they want to create new events on your calendar?

Looking at the Google Calendar API, it seems like if you want to grant an app the ability to add new events, you need to give permission to view all events and delete events as well.



So it's kind Google's fault for that. Still that's a lot of permissions to request, I'd be uncomfortable even letting them have the ability to add or view events. Does it have a way to work if you don't allow it access to Google Calendar?

I think all apps seeing all events is a usability thing. When you try to double schedule something every app can tell you about the conflict.

I would much rather companies just provide a Webcal link rather than mess with my calendar through an API...

While I agree that the permissions seem over and above what's necessary, there's a trivial solution available that I've been using for many years: create a Google account (or several!) that's exclusively used for _untrusted_ services. Would you really care if this - or any - app has access to an empty calendar, can access its empty Drive, or ends up adding an irrelevant email address to a spam list?

(By the way, it's not lost on me that you probably already do have such a setup, it's just, I know far too many folks who don't!)

I simply declined the permission and it still made the account. Seems like only calendar integration is not set up because of it.

I don't say that this is the case, but it's a question of time that your videos/audios end up used in a questionable way because you trusted a service similar to the one described here.

I really detest the idea that there is a correct way to speak. Speaking is communicating, it is the fundamental way you develop relationships with others. Public speaking is no different, just more people.

Is there a correct way to be friends? No. And there is not a correct way to publicly speak either.

There are, however, plenty of incorrect ways to be friends...

Improving communication skills is about avoiding massive pitfalls while allowing your unique voice to develop through practice.

Is saying "um" one of these massive pitfalls you're referencing?

Surely context matters massively?

"Do you even still love me?" "Umm..."

"Do you think Jack deserves this promotion?" "Umm..."

"Do you think this software solves the problem?" "Umm..."

"Surely you realise Donald Trump is the true incarnation of the coming messiah?" "Ummmm....."

Those Ummms may well be massive pitfalls. Alternatively, those ummms might accurately indicate that the entire premise of the question is dubious or flat-out false, depending on your delivery.

A person who uses ummm too much may well have severe problems communicating effectively, and a tool to help them only use ummms deliberately and meaningfully might be useful. A person in a presentation may wish to give an air of humility and approachability, in which case the ummms may be helpful - or they may wish to give an air of authority and certainty, in which case that meta-message is shattered by excessive umms.

Intent-based communication is subjectively valid, and one can argue that expecting and requiring perfectly honed communication might be a form of implicit bias and prejudice. I appreciate the idea that, as a societal issue, reducing our dependence on homogenised thought delivery is worth a wider conversation, but I'd say this is the wrong level from which to attack that systemic change. You don't attack scalpel manufacturers for the proliferation of plastic surgery.

Yet one could argue that a communication is - objectively - only as good as the way it is received. And while the majority of your communication might not need that level of certainty, for many people practice is the only thing they require to achieve the appearance of confidence. And democratising the ability to learn that skill doesn't seem to me a bad thing.

Maybe those hesitations aren’t communication failures but successes, as they convey the true feeling of the speaker.

You cannot evaluate “effectiveness” of speech if you don’t know what your goal is.

Ohhh - sorry, it's only just occurred to me - you never umm when you're nervous, do you?

You see, a lot of humans do. In public speaking, in meetings, in the pub or meeting people unexpectedly on the street.

The brain hears a question and is on a go-slow, either too little coffee, too much coffee, too much stimulus or churning bigger questions, like why the hell did I wear this shirt and how am I gonna hide that massive grease stain and damn I wish I had a spare jumper in my "Oh, hi -- umm - uhyeah, no, it's umm... it's, well, it's umm going well thanks -- yes I am, thank you -- yeah, it's only been oh, umm, a month, umm... oh three months actually -- umm, yeah, she's umm, no I mean sure, she's not the, umm, I mean she's got, umm, a lovely"

(And then the car-crash of a conversation ends with them pointing to your starbucks cup and saying "Anyway, I gotta go - enjoy your coffee!" and you shout back "Yeah, you too" then realise they haven't got any kind of drink in their hands but at that point you really don't want to care, you just want to be walking. Away.)

Because in situations where the brain feels rushed, the brain tells itself "YOU NEED TO ANSWER NOW" and so, without any training otherwise, usually says umm or other filler rubbish in the (not-so-conscious) hopes that the other person won't realise that you're frantically scrabbling to find real content and coming up woefully short. And the real content that does come up, if it does come up, arrives in the most unhelpful way, and you end up saying horrible things and wish you'd just stuck with "umm".

Even in a presentation, where you've practised a million times and your cat is frankly bored of hearing about your financial projections for the 15th time in a row, but you get in that room and you see the slide and you realise it doesn't tell you as much as it told you when you wrote it, your mind fills with.... "ohhhh... I know this.... this was the one, about.... ohhhhhh....." and your mouth says "Right. Umm... so we, uhhh, on this one, ummm, so as you may be aware, well some of you.... ummm..."

Maybe some people's hesitations aren’t communication failures but successes. But some hesitations are not about truth. And often they compound themselves, making more little hesitation babies as you hate yourself a little more for the unintended hesitation that sounded meaningful that just passed out of you.

And maybe the answer is stupidly simple: Cut yourself some slack. Allow pauses. Learn to ride the awkward silence. Learn to laugh at yourself under pressure and practice witty things to say to replace the filler.

But that's not as easy as, well now you have the answer so what's the problem. That actually boils down to "retrain every neuron in the linguistic centres of your brain that have been growing since the age of 6"

That takes some practice, and as annoyed as your cat may be that it's having to listen to yet another presentation, it can't replace the pressure of real life. Hence, I guess, a tool that helps you measure your progress in real life.

Because sometimes "your goal" is just to get through one day without feeling like an absolute muppet.

You may detest it as much as you wish, turns out however that it is not going to change the fact that there are better ways to speak/communicate.

No there aren't :)

There are some ways that are more correct ways to speak. Especially if your intention is to convey meaning within a shared language.

Within a specific context you can coherently ask the question "could I have said that differently to achieve this outcome" but no, you are wrong if you think there are "more correct" ways to speak in general.

To be "more correct" is to have fewer grammatical syntactical or lexical errors.

What is it you know I talk of

Speaking (and communicating) is a skill that can be improved.

No they aren't. If you have a specific goal, you can improve the way you acted towards that goal, though.

can you explain this with an example?

IMO communication is a skill involving verbal and non-verbal communication. If a robot suggests that you maintain eye contact while communicating, it might help someone be aware of that and improve. There's usually always important guidelines to follow that you're free to break at your own risk.


When I was in high school there was an amazing teacher that said um while giving written speeches. I started counting instead of listening to the actual speech.


Would it have been better if they didn't create this tool because communication isn't a skill and because there isn't one objectively correct way to say good or bad

What would it take to convince you that speaking and communicating are skills?

A coherent explanation of what the skill is

A skill is any learned ability, acquired from practice or training.

Humans aren't born with a natural ability to speak. They learn it over time. All the way from producing sounds to forming sentences to using principles such as a rhetorical triangle.


In a leadership role. I would love this - particularly to help make me aware of when I should be holding more space for others. But the fact that the meeting data (audio/video) gets transmitted to a third party is a complete deal killer.

I'm an introvert and often shy away from talking to strangers. But interestingly, I've always been pretty good at public presentations. I've received multiple compliments after my presentations. I'm often really confident when presenting my slides. Part of it is because I spend so much time creating content (slides) and in the process, I come up with creative ways to explain different things. I also tend to walk a bit during my talks and make eye contact with the audience and use my hands a lot.

I wish I could be like that all the time so that people could see the real potential and enthusiasm in me, but unfortunately I'm mostly reserved and don't initiate conversations especially with strangers. Aside from love life, it affects my professional life as well—lots of professors thought of me as a low-profile, shy student, but sometimes they'd get a glimpse of what I could be during my presentations and changed their mind.

Recently I started to start having some conversations with people I don't know and man, it feels great! I feel more confident just by talking to and asking peoples' names in the building. I guess the key is that I don't expect these convos to go anywhere. When you're introvert, the circle of friends is so small that people have so much value/influence on you. When you broaden your scope, you start to see other people as points on a sphere—as their value (being special) decreases, so does the fear of saying the wrong thing to them, so you are more likely to start conversations and have fun and see where things go instead of stressing over what you should say and whether they will be offended or not.

You sound like me, 5 years ago, at age 21. I only realized I am actually an extroverted person a few months ago.

You can be both! I score as both INTJ and ENTJ depending on the day and my mood.

It sounds like you're an ambivert. MBTI forces you into either the introvert or extrovert category by design, even though the trait is a spectrum.

Obligatory reminder that MBTI is pretty much worthless.

Only child syndrome + handicap + need for social acceptance = pretty unique recipe in my experience. I'm wired different than most. I actually quite enjoy it, as so much I learned in private quiet reading time comes in handy. Yes, I know about Punjab. Yes I know about the Falklands. How about Aknor Wat? It really helps to move among the tribes of the world.


Why not have my videostream analyzed and the coach synthesize a better communicating videostream?

Cut out the feeble middle men and let the machines negotiate with a shopping list of interests ?

I dont want to be socially ept, cunning and able, if a machine can do that for me.

> let the machines negotiate

I think you're on the money as to where that's headed.

However, your understanding of technology seems to be entirely as weapons to gain advantage over others. Is that a fair observation?

Might technology have other uses?

>I think you're on the money as to where that's headed.

Why would the "machines" "negotiate" (presumably with other machines) using human tools like conversation and presentations? There are multiple algorithms and mediums at which this can be done more efficiently (and is being done more efficiently).

We are at peak singularitarian delusion in these threads already. 'Humans do something, machines can (deus ex machina enters) do it better, machines will do it in the exact same way but instead of humans". Can't wait for the next AI winter, we desperately need it in light of these idiotic takes.

Thats what nature is. State copying itself until it runs out of matter and energy and starts to copy itself over other stateful creatures. Gras vs flower, flower vs tree, savannah vs forrest, animals for whichever ecosystem feeds them.

Why should be a social apex predator be a inherent save role in human society? Nothing of value there, that cant be reproduced by machines.

Sounds like Conway's "Game of Life". Outside that imaginary petri dish, that two dimensional model of existence, and ignoring Rousseau, Kierkegaard, 3-5000 years of human religious thought, then your question makes sense;

> Why should be a social apex predator be a inherent s(l)ave role in human society?

If you truly believe what you say about "nature" it becomes;

Why would a social apex predator, knowing the love of Jesus, the insights of Einstein, Penrose, Hofstadter, being a greater warrior-poet than Colonel Kurtz, then create and unleash another more potent agent than itself (ostensibly for amusement)?

Three possibilities come to my mind.

- Hubris

- Self-loathing/suicide

- Extraordinary stupidity (misjudgement of our own intelligence)

Do you have a preference?

Seems similar to https://www.read.ai/ or https://otter.ai/ in terms of functionality, but focused more on individuals.

Read.ai focuses more on cutting down meetings and provides recommendations to reduce workload (which includes improving communication). Read works on meet, zoom, teams or webex and just joins the meetings as a bot.

Otter.ai focuses on transcription and making notes very accessible and searchable.

From the demo poised seems to require you to use their video chat, I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's a commodity, but seems like it would be hard to get people to switch to and trust. I recall zoom had several trust issues in the past (related to routing to China).

Most companies don't want their interviews logged for liability reasons.

I need this, but would only ever want to run a local only version.

That's one of the rare moments that I abhor what AI might bring out us humans...

For me that moment is every time I read anything new about AI. Luddite life!

If you want this functionality but not with some sketchy startup, Microsoft PowerPoint has this built in for free (not free exactly, but with whatever you pay for the Microsoft bundle of crap)

Do they have a version of this for couples communication?

Politicians and public figures could use something like this for interviews or taking questions on the podium to tweak their speeches in real-time to sound more legit.

An antidote for this would be an OSS alternative for the rest of us to identify dishonesty/inconsistencies and fact-check in real-time.

>The best part? No one else knows you’re using it.

Right. Soon, everybody will just assume you're using one, without knowing.

Imagine being so [insert your own term] that a robot is qualified to teach you to communicate better with humans.

Robot says you're coming across as judgemental ;-)

Judging from the comments, looks like there is demand for zero knowledge speech and video processing.

I'm curious how many people would be helped by real time critical feedback while speaking in public. For people who are already anxious about speaking, I could see the negative feedback causing a downwards spiral of making them even more anxious.

if we're going to a world of AI everywhere, why do I need to become a robot myself?

so you can fit in

Relevant from 16 years ago:


This seems the epitome of "AI applications" that ride on human weakness, insecurity and disconnection. It's an application for people who have no friends. Any other sincere and observant human being can help you be a better communicator if you feel comfortable asking them to criticise your performance.

Is this a value judgement or you're just saying? "This app rides on human weakness" sounds like negative framing at least. Because yes, if you had good observant friends, it reduces the need for this for sure. But the human weakness, insecurity and disconnection is already there, and some people have no friends and have trouble communicating well. I think it's good to be skeptical of instances of this kind of work in terms of the details like how it respects the users privacy and treats their data sensitively, and whether or not it's selling an effective method, but at least it's sort of aimed towards good.

Also ad tech is the epitome of AI applications that ride on human weakness ;)

> Is this a value judgement ... sounds like negative framing at least.

Yes it is a negative value judgement. I am not trolling or being unnecessarily provocative. I think that, on balance, some technologies are likely to make things worse. Not in general, but to specifically counter the very aim they set out to solve.

> the human weakness, insecurity and disconnection is already there

I disagree with this. On several levels. Some people have different abilities and personality for sure. But the insecurity and weakness I speak of is societal (weak interpersonal relations in a single-serving microwave meal culture), and is caused by precisely such disconnecting technologies. This kind of technology creates less incentives to develop human interpersonal skills and ultimately saps confidence. The user learns to simulate confidence.

> I think it's good to be skeptical of instances of this kind of work in terms of the details like how it respects the users privacy and treats their data sensitively, and whether or not it's selling an effective method,

I think it's important to be sceptical generally. That makes one a good technologist and not merely an implementor of random ideas that we do "because we can". All the things you mention are hot topics, and I agree they need scrutiny. But there are wider and more complex factors to remain sceptical of, such as the social impact of technologies.

> but at least it's sort of aimed towards good.

I have great faith and optimism in human beings, these things are always "aimed toward good". I make no judgements about the motives of the developers (which I think is already a few steps more charitable than some of the insinuations I've seen in comments). I'm getting down-voted because I dare to commit a heresy of asking deeper questions.

> Also ad tech is the epitome of AI applications that ride on human weakness ;)

That's true.

I think I understand where you're coming from, and largely agree.

Regarding societal weakness/insecurity stemming from disconnecting technologies, I view that as something that's happened to a large degree, and it shapes chunks of the modern landscape as I see it.

Technologies that help to correct that are valuable. Dependencies on others force the development of interpersonal skills, and maybe something like this discourages someone from joining an association like toastmasters or similar. That would be a shame. But on the other hand, depending on the users own flavor of neuroses it may help them feel comfortable enough or develop the interest to prompt them to do something more social. I really don't know, I could see it nudging my past selves either way.

Regardless, thanks for your response. I did need a reminder to take a wider perspective in this context, I appreciate it.

Thanks for the exchange.

> depending on the users own flavor of neuroses it may help them feel comfortable enough or develop the interest to prompt them to do something more social.

Absolutely. I agree this is real utility. I guess I'm concerned that these are actually outliers used to justify a more troubling project. And maybe more people have crippling anxiety disorders only treatable by machines than I care to admit. It actually reminds me of the arguments around anti-depressants as a gateway to proper therapy. I do hear you.

Uh, no. It's a coach to train oneself.

Your friends don't want to spend fulltime analyzing all your presentations, providing you with trends over time and actionable feedback.

Or are you paying your friends to do this work?

> Your friends don't want to spend fulltime analyzing all your presentations

With respect you've no idea what my friends will or won't do for me, or what I will do for them. Maybe your friends won't.

> Or are you paying your friends to do this work?

It's precisely because we're friends that we don't have to pay each other. People can have genuine interests in one another beyond money.

The title wasn't clear, so I thought it was a tool for learning / improving in a new language (you know, pronunciation, accent etc). I wonder would it be useful in that regard? Because for me, conversational Spanish or French would be difficult because I don't interact with native speakers.

i m not sure that telling unconfident people that they re weak and have no friends helps

> not sure that telling unconfident people that they re weak and have no friends helps

You're right. That would just be mean and rude. But I'm not doing that. I'm telling confident people (like the developers and fans of this software) that they ought not to mislead people who lack confidenve into beleiving a web application can substitute for real friends.

I'm not sure where you get the impression that people who would benefit from this tool have no friends. That requires some quite absurd mental gymnastics.

I can’t imagine many companies would allow this to be installed on company hardware.

This seems to focus a lot on the word usage too, which is useful.

Would be great if this combined with PowerPoint Online with Speaker Coach somehow. Then both deck, pace, clarity and word use are addressed. PowerPoint does some of it, but not to the depth that this seems to do it.

Can we have something like this for text?

Check out the Hemingway Editor: https://hemingwayapp.com

Or you could hire or ask any random person to give feedback, that at least is a human

Honestly if you’re not a confident public speaker you may also be embarrassed in front of family / friends / colleagues, so I see this AI as a great bridge to get over that initial hump. Then yes, do it in front of a human at some point too.


Well we are only a few iterations away from actual AIs doing customer service anyway.

I cannot over emphasize how much I don’t want a computer teaching me to talk. The only reason this is a problem is that we’re relying on computers for communication too much in the first place.

I don't understand this.

The only reason this is a problem is because we rely on computers for communication too much.

So the issue is less the service and more the fact that we live in a world with a lot of texting applications and emails being sent?

I would understand if you're claiming that it would make us speak more "robotic"

Fair enough. My point is that any time spent communicating in texts, emails, chat apps, etc. diminishes your ability to communicate in meaningful ways. Electronic communication is incapable of fulfilling the requirements for effective communication to take place. At best it’s useful for one off exchanges of information. Or it takes a long time to craft a well thought out piece of writing, which the vast majority of us are not doing. We think we can just substitute a Zoom call for an in person meeting. This is brought on by the fact that we think the internet is a solution to problems in and of itself instead of just a tool. Asking the internet to in turn teach us how to talk only makes the problem worse.

Doing the work of spending time with people in real life is the best possible solution for learning how to communicate meaningfully and effectively. We can’t offload all our problems to AI. We’re just creating different problems.

Case and point: this comment thread, while giving us the ability to transfer sterile information is devoid of all the nuance of an in person conversation.

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