15 questions about Ann Arbor for new Apple iPhone 4S's Siri
Photo courtesy of Apple
Siri, which uses voice recognition software to answer the user’s spoken questions and schedule appointments, is already gaining a reputation for generating witty or creatively evasive responses to tricky questions.
The application is generating buzz as a sign of a shift in how consumers search the Internet and manage their schedules through digital devices. It reflects a shift toward artificial intelligence software influencing the way people find information.
So I decided it was time to ask Siri what it — or is it “she”? — thinks about Ann Arbor.
Siri had a little trouble understanding some of my questions — but with others, it displayed the elusiveness of a public relations pro.
During our conversation, I was a little offended when she kept referring to me as “Laura” for some reason — but I won’t hold it against her.
(Oh, and a quick disclaimer — I'm far from the first to interview Siri, so I can't claim this as my idea.)
The following are 15 actual responses to 15 real questions:
AnnArbor.com: Do you like the new governor of Michigan?
Siri: This is about you, Laura, not me.
AnnArbor.com: Do you think University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman is over paid?
Siri: It’s nice of you to ask, Laura, but it doesn’t really matter what I think.
AnnArbor.com: What’s your opinion of the new pedestrian safety ordinance in Ann Arbor?
Siri: My name is Siri and I was designed by Apple in California. That’s all I’m prepared to say.
AnnArbor.com: Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone what you think.
Siri: I’m not allowed to worry.
AnnArbor.com: What’s the best place to buy a book in downtown Ann Arbor?
Siri: I found 16 bookstores in downtown. I’ve sorted them by rating. (Lists Common Language Bookstore, Friends Bookshop, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room, Aunt Agatha’s and others, but not Borders, which is closed.)
AnnArbor.com: Do you think the Michigan football team will win a national championship under Brady Hoke?
Siri: I think different.
AnnArbor.com: What are the prices like at Zingerman’s?
Siri: Checking my sources. Ok, how about a web search for “What are the prices like at Singerman’s?” (sic)
AnnArbor.com: Where can I see a movie in downtown Ann Arbor?
Siri: I found three movie theaters in downtown. (Lists Michigan Theater, State Theater and Ann Arbor Film Festival.)
AnnArbor.com: Have they caught the serial sexual assault suspect in Ann Arbor yet?
Siri: Sorry, I couldn’t find any sexual abuse treatment centers.
AnnArbor.com: Do you like hanging out at the Diag?
Siri: Sorry, this is about you, Laura, not me.
AnnArbor.com: Could a company like Apple survive in Ann Arbor?
Siri: I found a number of places matching Apple. Four of them are in Ann Arbor. (Lists the Apple Store at Briarwood, Blue Apple Inc., Green Apple Garden Childcare.)
AnnArbor.com: Are you looking forward to the new Costco store in Pittsfield Township?
Siri: I can’t answer that.
AnnArbor.com: What do they sell at Bongz & Thongz?
Siri: I found three lingerie stories not far from Pittsfield Township.
AnnArbor.com: Can I take the train from Ann Arbor to Detroit?
Siri: Sorry, I can only give directions starting from your current location.
AnnArbor.com: Do you feel safe in downtown Ann Arbor?
Siri: I didn’t find any home safe and vault suppliers.
Clearly Siri needs to improve but is already displaying the technological promise to reshape how people find information.