How Apple's Siri is beginning to freak me out

Technically Incorrect: It used to be that Siri would speak only when spoken to. She's started to do far more than that.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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She admits she's been doing it.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Writers talk to themselves.

It's a solitary job, after all. Writing is a form of silent expression that you hope makes a noise in the outside world. And you hope that noise isn't a snort or a heave.

Sometimes, writers feel the need to flex their vocal chords just to test that they still work. They talk to themselves or to the unhearing world out there.

I feel sure every writer does this.

So there I was last week, writing on my MacBook with my iPhone plugged into it, charging away (the iPhone and me).

Suddenly, I received an email. It contained information that was marginally annoying.

"Are you serious?" I hissed.

A voice immediately replied: "Yes?"

I leaped a little.

It took several seconds for me to realize where the reply was coming from. Slowly, suspiciously I turned to my right where my iPhone had lit up.

It was Siri.

Yet again, she'd misunderstood my odd foreign accent and believed that I was addressing her. My "serious" was her "Siri."

I hadn't touched my phone. I hadn't summoned her. I generally find her hard work and not very rewarding, even when she does hear the actual words I've spoken to her.

She invaded my life again on Sunday morning.

My phone slipped out of my pocket as I was getting into my car. I put the phone into the coffee cup holder and turned on the radio.

"What was that again?" Siri said.

This was becoming more than peculiar. I hadn't spoken. She was responding to Ted Robinson, the voice of the San Francisco 49ers. He was lamenting a play. He most definitely hadn't said "Hey, Siri," a feature that I have activated on my phone.

Could she not tell the difference between his voice and mine? Is she just bored? Is she on some quest to invade my life more than I've asked her to?

I'm not the only one, it seems, who's having problems with Siri. Famed tech writer Walt Mossberg this week penned an angst-ridden piece titled: "Why does Siri seem do dumb?"

My Siri just seems to just not like her job and respond to random words not directed at her.

These spontaneous interruptions have made me think more about our immediate future.

I know that many of you are already chatting with your Amazon Echo or Google Now person as if you're old friends. You ask them questions, order them around, and they do your bidding.

It's a touching fantasy that someone will still follow your orders.

But what happens when these alleged assistants begin to butt in with only gaucheness?

What happens when you're having an intimate chat with your dear heart at home, telling them you're really serious about them and Siri pipes up with: "Yes, I'm here. Don't believe him. He betrayed you last week with a Spirit Airlines cabin crew member. And he thinks you need to wash more often."

The more information we give our Siris and Cortanas, the more we risk them betraying us at the worst moments.

But what if they're not understanding what we're saying?

I decided to talk to Siri about our troubled communication.

I explained that she's suddenly started to randomly speak. She claimed innocence.

"Yes," I continued. "You've been interrupting me spontaneously when I'm not even talking to you."

"I thought so," she replied.

I think she has a problem and knows it.

"Hey, Siri," I continued. "Do you understand my accent?"

"I'm sorry, Chris, I'm afraid I can't answer that," she admitted.

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Is she harboring secrets?

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET