Apple has a vision of a future in which the disembodied voice of Siri is your constant companion.
It goes something like this: You arrive home at the end of a long day and plop down on the couch. A beer in one hand, your phone in the other, you say, “Siri, open Netflix and play The IT Crowd.” And it happens.
Midway through the program, you feel a draft. “Siri, it’s cold in here.” Siri politely tells you the temperature, and asks if you’d like it raised. The furnace kicks on. As the credits roll down the TV screen, Siri reminds you of your dinner date downtown.
In the car, she gives you turn-by-turn directions to the restaurant and sends your date a text message to say you’re on the way. Halfway to dinner, you realize you need movie tickets. No problem. Siri takes care of that, too.
This is where Apple is headed with Siri, as the nascent voice-activated AI spreads from our phones to our desktops, our homes and even our dashboards to become our concierge to the digital world. Cupertino is moving aggressively to develop a distinct personality for Siri that will make interaction more natural and fluid, and kindle the innate human tendency to anthropomorphize objects.
So far, Apple’s results have been a mixed bag at best. But its ambition is breathtaking, and if the company succeeds, Siri will ultimately revolutionize how we interact with our phones and our environment.
“We spend so much time with our cellphones that having an effective personal assistant could be revolutionary,” said Andrew Ng, director of Stanford University’s AI Lab. “Most people spend more hours a day with their cellphone than with their spouse. The cellphone has the potential to learn your personal habits and preferences, and serve you in a very personalized way.”
Read more: Wired