David Pogue is the personal-technology columnist for the New York Times. He recently shared his interesting experiments with the iPhones virtual assistant, Siri (Silicon Superego, Scientific American, January 2012, p. 31).
For those not familiar with Siri, she is a personal servant programmed into the iPhone OS. She responds to spoken commands such as make an appointment, call Theresa, play Lady Gaga, remind me to revamp the home theater on Saturday, or how do I get to the hospital from here?
Pogue points out the interesting results when the user amusingly tries to overload Siris capacities. Here are some of the more interesting examples:
User: Siri, I love you. Siri: Thats sweet, David. Now can we get back to work?
User: Open the pod bay doors, Siri. Siri: Im sorry, David. Im afraid I cant do that. (Pause) Are you happy now?
User: Siri, whats the meaning of life? Siri: I cant answer that now, but give me some time to write a very long play in which nothing happens.
Some of us like to make our evolving technology more personable, in spite of the fact we know it is not a person and can never be personable. But lets face it; Siri is at least more personable than my favorite error message from Internet Explorer: Internet Explorer has experienced a problem and needs to close. That one is always about as strange as talking about yourself in the third person.
A few years ago, my wife and I had to replace our microwave. We were rather astounded when we zapped our first snack and the display screen began scrolling a large message: Enjoy your meal!
Thats the first time a microwave oven ever told me to enjoy my food. I didnt know whether to feel loved, obligated, or amused.
And the strange thing is . . . it does this EVERY time.
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