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Apple's Siri speaks to iPhone users, but what is the message?

Full disclosure: I’ve been an iPhone user since 2008 and I just bought my second iPad. So, I’m not bashing Apple products, and I’m not bashing iPhone users or users of Apple products in general.

However, as Bill Murray once said in Stripes, something is seriously wrong here. The new iPhone 4S and its Siri voice recognition software are getting very favorable reviews, and everyone I have talked to about Siri has nothing but good things to say about it. So, why do I dare to blaspheme?

It’s not the technology, it’s the message. As I’ve noted before, Apple has an irresistible power over its users. So, when in the new 4S TV commercials Apple shows several morons learning how to accomplish daily tasks by using Siri, I get a little worried. The message is, you can solve everything by asking Siri. My question is, why would you want to?

If I didn’t know better, I would say Apple is taking a subtle swipe at the intelligence of its customers and iPhone users. It’s a practice Microsoft created about a decade ago: We can give over our lives to software, which theoretically frees our minds to do more complex tasks. It could be a step toward the next phase of human evolution, or it could be the next step in the dumbing down of Internet users. But it’s not. It’s just a tool; and like any tool, it has its uses and its limits.

One final thought for companies that are thinking about a bring-your-own-device policy: If too many iPhone users start talking into their phones to accomplish their daily tasks, it’s going to send some people over the edge — like me.

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Yes, you are right to say that Siri is just that, a tool, and not some central authority (whether that is Apple or IBM or the government ) telling you what to do. Siri automates a lot of work- and social - events, simplifies the task of scheduling management's time; it is a huge time saver for admin staff everywhere. It great, but not at all new. Voice recognition software has been in development for some 40-50 years and 20 years ago Nortel, a now defunct Canadian company, was making presentations of the voice PA, that would execute basic dialing and scheduling functions. Now that the smartphone becoming the norm in a consumer driven global phone market, the opportunities for voice driven interfaces for apps becomes very appealing. Just don't let Siri manage your LIFE!
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If Siri is but a tool, how can the message be that iPhone users are being dumbed down? Yes, you are right to say that Siri is just that, a tool, and not some central authority (whether that is Apple or IBM or the government )  telling you what to do. Siri automates a lot of work- and social  - events, simplifies the task of scheduling management's time; it is a huge time saver for admin staff everywhere. It great, but not at all new. Voice recognition software has been in development for some 40-50 years and 20 years ago Nortel, a now defunct Canadian company, was making presentations of the voice PA, that would execute basic dialing and scheduling functions. Now that  web access and the smartphone are becoming the norm in a consumer driven global phone market, the opportunities for voice driven interfaces for apps becomes very appealing. Just don't let Siri manage your  LIFE!
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