Annals of Artificial Intelligence: Siri Talks Back

The other day I bought a new Apple iPhone 6S. Its remarkable camera and interface were an instant joy, making content gathering for Improvised Life easier and more fun. But as long as I’d been using iPhones, I’d never spoken to Siri, Apple’s attempt at Artificial Intelligence. Before I’d fully set up the phone and had lain down for a nap, I ask Siri what the weather was. When he answered Sorry, Sally, there’s no weather info, I got annoyed and asked WHY NOT? I couldn’t believe what Siri said.

You see things, and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were, and I say, ‘Why not?’


Some smartass programmer at Apple was anticipating a smartass like me. But how did they get my particular brand of smartass: my love of the question WHY NOT? and dreaming things that never were.

I googled Siri’s powerful words. They were written by George Bernard Shaw in his 1921 play Back to Methuselah.

Curiously, just the day before at my new favorite magazine, Kid’s, Code and Computer Science, Tim Slavin asks the BIG question:

Computers can be programmed to make intelligent decisions. Does that make a computer intelligent? 

…or creative…?

…or intuitive…?


7 Responses to Annals of Artificial Intelligence: Siri Talks Back

  1. cm green 02.25.2016 at 9:16pm #

    New iphone user here; I loved this. Let’s hear it for smartass programmers everywhere. Especially literate ones.

  2. Sally Schneider 02.26.2016 at 9:08am #

    Yeah, it was pretty great. It got my number.

  3. am burton 02.26.2016 at 10:23am #

    Hi Sally! Try asking Siri what ZERO minus ZERO is… I think you will enjoy the response! Or ask why FIRETRUCKS are RED?

  4. Sally Schneider 02.26.2016 at 10:32am #

    Curious. Nothing interesting. 0 minus 0 = 0. And a link to why Firetrucks are red…What do you get? Maybe Siri IS tailoring messages to the asker.

  5. am burton 02.27.2016 at 11:22am #

    Sally, I realize I should have said zero divided by zero – more interesting response. Hope it works for you. In the meanwhile, enjoy your day!

  6. Sally Schneider 02.27.2016 at 11:46am #

    Yeah, THAT was the question that Siri was ready for: Imagine that you have 0 cookies and you split them evenly among 0 friends. How many cookies dos each person get? See, it doesn’t make sense. And Cookie Monster is sady that there are no cookies. And you are sad that you have no friends.

    Great! Thanks!

  7. am burton 02.28.2016 at 2:34pm #

    Glad it worked! Happy Sunday!

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