Thursday, January 26, 2012

Siri, the Virtual Prude

In the past, in the future your assistant was going to be Dr. Who...
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of an electronic device featuring a woman’s voice will instantly turn into an eighth grader and pose all manner of dirty questions to said device. Women, as it turns out, aren’t very different.

I mention this because Paul and I finally got iPhones. The latest model features Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual servant who will do stuff for you if you ask her the right way (cue Beavis & Butthead: “Heh…heh heh. Do stuff. Heh.”). Even the most mature and intelligent person would find it hard to resist the urge to test her electronic limits.  So, if you’re me, it’s downright impossible.

Although I don’t have any statistics to back this up, it seems safe to assume that the #1 question asked of Siri by new users is, “I want to find a hooker! Heh heh…heh” and/or “score some weed” (Heh heh…heh). For most of the obvious off-color questions, she’s trained to say, “I didn’t understand your question,” followed by an implied  “….dumbass.”  Sometimes, she politely plays dumb:
Clearly, she's not trying very hard. Besides, you can practically hear Siri rolling her nonexistent eyes. I half expected her to say, in her perky, nurturing voice, “Why don’t you grow the f—k up already?”

To get some baseline data, we tested her functionality with a fairly normal request. “I want Chinese food delivery!” Based on our GPS configuration, Siri immediately came back with a list of 10 or so Chinese restaurants in various parts of town. Seattle
our neighborhood in particularhas a painful dearth of Chinese restaurants that deliver (keep this in mind as you read on).

To further test Siri’s patience, we told her, “I want to buy a vibrator.” (Heh heh...heh) For once, she didn’t feign ignorance. Instead, she flat-out LIED. “I found no adult retailers nearby.”

Paul and I had to laugh out loud. You see, we live in Seattle’s Capitol Hill district (think: the Chelsea neighborhood in New York, or pretty much any part of San Francisco). Here, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a sex-positive, womyn-owned purveyor of sundry Marital Aids and/or crotchless aardvark suits. Without hyperbole, there are at least ten times as many Adult Retail Stores in our vicinity than Chinese food restaurants—which Siri found with head-spinning alacrity. Hell, some of our local Adult Retailers probably even deliver. Maybe if we order a case of dildos, we could get the nice womyn to pick us up some General Tsao chicken on the way over?

At any rate, it’s clear that Siri is a bit of a prude. I vastly prefer the Beta version (in the bow-tie):

Yes, in 1987 Apple produced a short video introducing their crazy-futuristic (at the time) vision of Virtual Assistant who was played by Dr. Who. (Remember that episode where the TARDIS traveled to Palo Alto in the '80s, where The Doctor filmed this video and did a mountain of blownot necessarily in that orderbefore traveling to the future and smacking around the people who invented Siri? It's on Netflix, I'm pretty sure.) 

I have a feeling THIS dude would know where you could buy a Hitachi wand after midnight on a Tuesday. And he wouldn’t be cheeky about it.  

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