I’m ashamed to admit that I’m always screaming at Siri. But she never listens.
If you don’t know who Siri is, consider yourself blessed because that means you haven’t become a slave to technology like the rest of us nameless drones whose lives revolve around iProducts and cyber-amusements.
Siri is an abbreviation for “speech interpretation and recognition interface,” which in plain English means it’s a computer program that lets you talk to your smartphone. Then, she responds to your requests and/or demands like an obsequious personal assistant looking for a raise, even though she’d really love to tell you to go to #!%#$@.
My discussions with her go something like this:
Me: “Siri, what’s the best Italian restaurant in the area?”
Siri: “A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible after midnight.”
Me: “I asked you WHAT’S THE BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT NEAR HERE?!?!?!” (Shouting and swearing never help.)
Siri: “Tomorrow it will be mostly sunny with a few afternoon clouds.”
You get the idea.
I was in the car recently with a fellow who kept asking her for a phone number, but she kept responding along the lines of “Would you like tickets to the Wayne Newton concert or the Super Bowl?”
For the most part, I’ve stopped trying to ask my phone to do things like give me directions to the Bernie Sanders barbecue or order me pepperoni pizza because it can get VERY frustrating.
To make matters worse, I’ve programmed her so that she has a British accent, which means she has that same supercilious, know-it-all tone of Maggie Smith, aka the Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey.
Me: “Siri, call Janet Bartucci on her mobile phone.”
Siri: “I have Janet Romeo, Maria Bartiromo, Janet Napolitano, Romeo and Janet … Would you like me to call Dame Judi Dench?” (Italian names seem to confuse her.)
This is the beginning of the end because now that they’re putting computer programs like this in cars, things are going to get really crazy. Perhaps you’ve heard that Fiat Chrysler and Google have already formed a partnership to add self-driving technology to minivans.
The establishment is trying to assure us that robot cars, which should be widely available in five to ten years, will lead to safety and convenience. And before you know it, they’ll be taking kids to school, soccer practice, dance lessons and unsavory places like the casino and topless bars. Yes, driverless cars will make life easier for everyone, but they’ll have minds of their own.
However, there’s a bright side. Because human error is responsible for 90 percent of all accidents, self-driving cars are expected to reduce insurance rates, decrease repair costs and save lives.
But for anyone who’s had the annoying experience of listening to a backseat driver — or been a backseat driver — you can imagine what’s going to happen when the robot car doesn’t respond the way you want it to.
“Turn left! You missed the turn — go back! What the *#%@*! are you doing!!!”
“That does not compute. Destination arrival in three minutes.”
“Where are we going???”
I’m not looking forward to arguing with my car. It’s bad enough when we have to argue with our spouses because they drive too fast or drive too slow or miss a turn or can’t read a map. (I still trust the map more than my GPS. Never underestimate the power of the human mind or for that matter, artificial intelligence … and its ability to screw things up.)
I predict that self-driving cars are going to incite civil unrest because they’ll think they know better than us Homo sapien dimwits. Before you know it, they’ll want to run for president. After all, anyone can do it. Even worse, they’ll completely ignore our requests and do what they want. Consider the possibilities:
“I SAID I WANT TO GO TO THE BAR!!!”
“That is not possible. I smell alcohol on your breath. You are going home to bed.”
Or a dispute with the family shopaholic:
“Take me to Bloomingdale’s! I said Bloomingdale’s! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”
“You’ve already charged $19,679 on your Visa card, and you are approaching your limit.”
Or the retiree who wants to spend his Social Security check at the casino:
“I WANT TO GO TO FOXWOODS! WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?”
“You’re going to church. You haven’t been there in four months. Then, I’M going to Foxwoods!”
When Big Brother puts artificial intelligence in the car, there’s the possibility it will be smarter than you, and there’s nothing worse than arguing with someone or something that’s smarter than you … especially if it’s not human.
Beware: The invasion of the minivans is about to start.
Contact Joe Pisani at email@example.com.