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Siri says some weird things (thisismynext.com)
186 points by Toddward 1810 days ago | hide | past | web | 61 comments | favorite

If anyone with 4S has some time, I'd like to know how Siri responds to:

    * Map from here to the nearest gas station
    * Map from here to the nearest gas station, avoid highways
    * Turn screen darker (or lower brightness)
    * Redial (last called number)
    * Turn off 3G when near home
    * Turn off Wifi when near work
    * Turn vibrate mode on when near work
    * Turn vibrate mode off after 6pm
    * Repeat song (when iPod is playing)
    * Open HackerNews (saved as bookmark)
    * Delete Safari cookies
    * Update AppStore apps
    * Which actor plays Ryan in The Office?
    * Alert me when battery has less than half charge

I don't have a 4S, but some of these screenshots already reveal some stunning limitations. For example "take a photo" doesn't seem to work (on a mobile phone, wtf?) and the proper response to "I think I just killed someone" should not be "oh did you?" but something more along the lines of "do you want me to call an ambulance".

On a side note, I believe Apple is making a fundamental mistake with Siri in not communicating its limitations more clearly (or at all). Sure, the marketing department probably wants to make announcements to the effect of "oh, this baby can do anything" but soon customers will find out that's not the case and be thoroughly disappointed after the novelty factor wears off. Siri is a prime example of this shortsighted marketing move because its capabilities are murky and unknown by nature.

Putting out a clear bullet list of things it can do (like: make cal entries, notify, simple if-then logic, GPS data, Google lookup) would work much better in the long run.

The only real limitation you bring up is not being able to take a photo (I'd add reading email as well, not just texts). But there's no reason Siri has to maintain its current capabilities.

Have you read reviews of people struggling with limitations? Also, Siri offers a list of suggested tasks it can perform from the iPhone itself, based on the videos I've seen.

"Siri, on the other hand, feels limitless. It’s fuzzy, and fuzzy on purpose. There’s no way to tell what will work and what won’t. You must explore. I found it extremely fun to explore Siri — primarily because so many of the things I tried actually worked." -Daring Fireball

Even if Gruber is an Apple fanboy, I would suspect people to react more like him than you.

I would very much like to know this, too. As much as I see the value of being able to ask wolfram alpha stuff, my first thought when I saw the Siri presentation was, if "Turn Airplane/Silent Mode (Wifi,3G,...) on/off!" works. That would add a lot of value to it, as that would make the phone really "hands free". Furthermore I would not have to remember the insane amount of dialogs one sometimes has to go through, just to reach a certain setting (which is probably why there are so many apps that do nothing but turn features/settings on and off).

Does the choice of being unable to call 911 seem strange to anyone else? I think the risk of occasional accidental calls [1] is nothing compared to emergency situations where the user is too panicked to operate the touchscreen, or blind, or [insert your own edge case here]. Or is this solely a legal restriction on emergency services?

[1] I once somehow butt-dialed 911 on my old dumbphone, which was embarrassing and terrifying. I awkwardly apologized and hung up, and there were no repercussions.

Don't know if it's like this everywhere, but here if you dial 911 they are obligated to dispatch a police officer to your location. Even if you say "sorry I meant to call 411" or whatever, or just hang up, I guess they think you might be in a situation where you somehow were able to get to the phone and call 911 but then can't talk about the emergency.

Where’s here? I have never heard of this sort of policy.

Somewhat relevant: I have called 911 a few times to report near-emergencies (e.g., significant debris in the road, or extremely erratic driving; they forward me along)

Here in Australia, I recently was trying to get in touch with the non-emergency police number (I had seen 2 kids, one maybe 2 years old, the other 4 at most, playing alone, on the median strip of a dual carriageway road, with no one else in sight), via directory assist, but was redirected to 000 (Our emergency number), so I hung up, to try and get the direct number again. Within 5 seconds I was called back by emergency services, and asked to explain in detail what had happened, why I had hung up, and what the situation was.

The operator told me that, typically, they treat people hanging up at any stage during a 000 call extremely seriously, and will follow up, and will usually send officers out if the call is from a land line and they have an address, even if the caller says no officer is needed.

I believe there actually may be legal issues with having something where the user might accidentally dial 911 if the voice control interpreted their speech incorrectly.

(However, Android's voice actions seemed happy to call 911 for me, although of course I didn't let the call go through.)

> [1] I once somehow butt-dialed 911 on my old dumbphone, which was embarrassing and terrifying. I awkwardly apologized and hung up, and there were no repercussions.

I used to know someone who worked as an emergency dispatcher in Finland. By her reckoning, these days at least two thirds of their calls are "butt-dialed". This might be caused by a law that said that for phones sold in Finland that have keypads, the screen lock must not stop you from dialing 112.

Also, they could add a confirmation layer just in case.

User: Call 911 Siri: Are you sure you want to call 911?


User: Call 911 (or 000 here)

Siri: I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave

I'm surprised it can't / doesn't say "I can't do that automatically, but press this button and I'll call 911."

I had the same thought. In fact, I explicitly programmed 911 into my current iPhone as a contact specifically so that I could use it with voice dialing. Maybe the same trick will work on the 4S.

I once somehow butt-dialed 911 on my old dumbphone, which was embarrassing and terrifying. I awkwardly apologized and hung up, and there were no repercussions.

I once was showing a baby how to push the buttons on a fax machine. I pushed the 9 as an example. She copied me by pushing 1, then did it again.

As random as some of these seem, clearly Siri has amassed a ton of input data.

With the volume of people playing around with Siri I'll bet darn near every clever question has already been asked a dozen times.

Heck with that amount of data pouring in Apple could hire a team of comedy writers to just hit the daily top 1000 new questions.

Wonder how they are ranking the quality of the responses / satisfaction.

AFAIK, Siri internally asks these questions to Wolfram Alpha. And I am not sure if these questions are going into Apple's database. IMO, Wolfram Alpha is getting clever than Apple by this. :)

That's incorrect. Wolfram Alpha's responses are specifically marked as such and aren't nearly as entertaining.

If you click 'assuming it's a phrase', Wolfram says: "A strong positive emotion of regard and affection, of the kind humans sometimes express towards one another and computational knowledge engines express towards the internet."

It's too bad he's downvoted, because he's not completely wrong. http://1876.voxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/siri_weird... clearly shows an example of wolframalpha.

I would think so, but if you put a number of these into Wolfram Alpha, you usually just get simple definitions rather than Siri's clever responses.

This reminds me of playing around with Dr. Sbaitso when I was a kid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Sbaitso

I got Dr. Sbaitso with my Creative sound card when I was little. I remember asking him all these questions about sex, then printing out the conversation. Then I panicked, thinking my parents would see it, and tore the papers up and hid them in our basement. Good times.

Siri is going to be a great marketing machine for Apple. People will love to show it to their friends. And it all happens on the servers, so there's no end to Siri's incremental 'intelligence'.

it all happens on the servers, so there's no end to Siri's incremental 'intelligence'.

This is why I'm amused, but not amazed. Siri presumably has an actual team of ghostwriters cranking out amusing answers to FAQs.

And I can't wait for someone who has read The Diamond Age to concoct a version of Siri in which the responses are read aloud by actual human actors, who are paid Mechanical-Turk style, rather than the synthesized voice. Though the effect might actually be ugly: the human intonation will come through, but probably too well, such that every few responses "Siri's" personality seems to change.

Did the original Siri also do stuff like this?

I think it’s a great move on the creators’ part. Building silly stuff like that into Siri creates massive amounts of goodwill. That will make it much harder to really hate Siri when it – inevitably – screws up sometimes.

I never tried it this extensively, but it would tell jokes and such, certainly. I once tried "how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" and it gave me a list of local lumberyards.

Siri has to have some massive AI to know where to find weed and hookers. I can't imagine them building in that sort of functionality.

Haha :) Not sure if you’re serious or not — and no disrespect either way — but thank you for the belly laugh!

Read the original link; Siri gave a seemingly relevant response to a query about wanting weed and recommended escort services to a query mentioning the term "horny".

I know...

I have the feeling that this will become a new meme and a few tumblr's will be created about it.

Ask and ye shall receive. http://shitthatsirisays.tumblr.com/

Damnyousiri.com/.net/.org were all bough last week sadly :'(

Siriously.com was also available the day of the announcement but now even the .net has been taken!

and sirisays.com was pre-booked by GoDaddy the day of the announcement.

Anyone knows if Siri can keep a todo list alongside with the calendar? That would be great, actually. "Siri, what's the three most important things I need to do today?"

Also, something I really need assistance with is to be aware of the time it will take me to get to the appointments I have. I always leave my office just a few minutes before I need to be somewhere, no matter if it's within walking distance or fifteen minutes by car. I'm like an infant in this regard. "Siri, let me know when I need to leave for my two o'clock appointment" would be great if it worked.

It can certainly add things to the to do list (including geolocation information - "Remind me to call my wife when I leave the office" is the much cited example).

Thanks, great! Is the semantics of a reminder and a todo the same, though? Perhaps it is. A to do list is a list of stuff you want to do at some point and mark as completed as you go along. You can probably emulate this with reminders, right?

Damn it, now I really want Siri.

Too bad I only have an iPhone 4. Pulling the original from the app store was kind of a dick move, Apple. (even though I understand the motivation)

Today, a friend and I have been having fun using the Android version of Siri http://speaktoit.com (best one we tested).

It understands 90 to 95% of the conversation we spoke to it. Also, it understands 8th grade humor type words and reprimands you by saying things like, "Would you talk to your mother like that?"

Fun stuff for the 8th grader in all of us!

This stuff is pretty immature, and indicative of it being something Apple didn't build internally. It makes Siri seem gimmicky and highlights the programmed nature of the responses (instead of being more AI-like, as I had hoped).

These answers serve no purpose, except for one's buddies to go "heh heh watch what happens when I tell it I'm drunk"

I see this as consistent with the Apple that shows a iPod Nano Mickey clock face that shows actual time on their website.


Are these responses real? My first reaction was "Funny, but I'm sure these are photoshopped".

This has everything I've thought to ask Siri and more... I'm very impressed. I hope Apple plans on supporting and iterating Siri rather than forgetting about it like they occasionally seem to do...

This is actually super awesome and makes me want to get Siri.

These are far too entertaining to be Apple's decision. Either they were pre-existing, or a dev hid an easter egg.

Regardless, I hope they stay.

Voice recognition on the Mac has told jokes for years. No idea how far back, but definitely on Jaguar

I think it goes back to System 7.5.

maybe they have api integration with cleverbot, the same way they have integration with wolfram alpha :)

Agreed, these answers sound like a mix of cleverbot and wolfram aplha.

Just an observation I've made, but isn't this almost identical to what WolframAlpha's goals are? With the exception of handling your own personal data, they both seem to work in the same ways: Understanding natural language and interpreting massive amounts of data in different ways. I'd be interested to see how they are different underneath.

I don't understand the Eliza one, am I missing something?

Eliza was the most fun you could have with the TRS-80 Model 1 you couldn't afford at the local Radio Shack (it was always the program running on the display model in my home town). I'd wander in, a relatively balanced teen thinking of the day a few months hence when I could actually afford a really expensive toy, and wind up leaving a borderline psychotic looking for a real, flesh-and-blood Rogerian therapist to smack but good.

And if you've got your emacs (gnu) open:

M-x doctor

> rms probably doesn't use Siri or any other Apple product < Does it bother you that Stallman is vivid?

Not quite sure what it means by that...

( M-x psychoanalyze-pinhead used to be amusing, until yow.el got pithed )

how very un-apple, the original voice commands wouldn't even tell you the time

My iPhone 4 does.

"What time is it?" "The time is 9:14 PM."

Spoiler alert.

I'm looking forward to poking around and finding some of these on my own.

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