Asking a car to find the nearest Belgian restaurant is not really what Henry Ford had in mind.
But what really bothers me about this Siri frenzy is that the very devices that are keeping us from communicating with each other now suggest we get verbally cozy with them.
But using voice-recognition software in order to bounce through a server to a series of digital modeled answers is not the same as whispering in a lover’s ear.
These iPhone ads with Deschanel, Jackson, and Malkovich suggest being alone with your device is sort of comfy, one-on-one time.
It isn’t. We’ve become so desensitized to one another that communication— even eye contact—is becoming a lost art. What scares me most about this Siri business isn’t that they have technology that can mimic human conversation, but that humans might actually prefer it over the real thing.
What I’d rather hear in one of those spots is this:
“Siri, how many ounces in a cup?”
“Can’t you ask your mother?”
“All right, text mother.”
“She’d rather hear your voice.”
“I really don’t want to talk to…”
“Too late, here she is.”
“Son, is that you?”
“Uh, hi, Mom. I was just thinking of you…”
Let me know when they invent a dialogue string like that. Until then, I’ll limit my conversation partners to those who have lips and tongues. Even if they can’t find organic mushrooms.
Mitch Albom is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie. His new book is The Time Keeper (Hyperion).