Re: Here's an idea
"tell them to hire plenty of people to speak into these things all day long, reading all sorts of stuff, so that they can optimise their speech recognition and translation software by recording them."
You know why that doesn't work right? It's not just a case of translating what someone said from one language to another, I'm English, I'm living in Scotland but my accent carries North Yorkshire, Geordie and now a very small amount of Scottish. Google Assistant still knows what I am saying even though I am nit necessarily speaking pure English. I am not alone, it would be impossible to recruit people with every variation of accents to cover all use cases.
My friend is from Glasgow, and it manages to understand him about 75% of the time, which to be fair is a better success rate than me, I have to actually see him speaking to figure out what he's saying, if he phones me to have a conversation, I only understand every 3rd or 4th word and have to fill in the blanks based on context.
The fact that his Google Mini already has a better chance of understanding what he is saying than I do, is exactly why humans teaching the machine is necessary.
There are 2 possibilities - either 1) we all have to speak in unnatural ways to these devices and ensure we don't use any slang, a machine could probably learn this entirely without extra help. 2) the machine is constantly retrained with outside help and we can all speak to our devices the way we would speak to another person, without having to alter the way we construct our sentences. Option 2 is working reasonably well for most of us - but there is still some way to go. "Turn on the Greenroom lights" for example - constantly gets me "Sure, turning the lights green" which is both irritating and nonsensical since I don't have any lights that you can set the colour of.