Control Tower

Siri: The App You Can Fap To

  • comments (3)
  • Print

In sex work, a new girl always piques interest, even if the things she does aren't unique. So it goes with tech gadgets, too, and thus everyone's excited about Apple's new iPhone application Siri. What is Siri? It's a personal-assistance app that uses natural-language voice recognition. Apple claims Siri "understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back." Intelligent machines with a hint of personality have been around a while, but they've made people a trifle nervous ever since HAL refused to open the pod-bay doors. Apple wags even programmed the "I'm afraid I can't do that" line into the software. However, perhaps to soften any anxiety, Apple gave the app a feminine name and voice.

I'm not a programmer, but I know from personal experience what happens when you make a female voice instantly and anonymously accessible: People start talking dirty to her. Since computer geeks are widely recognized as the most sex-obsessed people on earth, they foresaw this and loaded Siri with snappy answers. I wish I'd had them around when I had a published phone number. Just as they do with Siri, people used to call me and ask odd questions, confess intimate secrets, and ask for guidance on unusual problems.

These weren't prospective clients, you understand—these were people treating me like a reference librarian for the dark side. If I was in the mood, I'd answer them. Like Siri, I had many callers ask where to buy drugs. (My response: "Amsterdam.") I had male callers solicit my opinion on whether they had a small penis, usually offering very specific measurements. ("Stop comparing yourself to porn performers.") "Should I get a sex change?" ("Here's a phone number for a therapist specializing in gender issues.") And, once, "How do I find a hit man?" (I hung up, a luxury poor Siri doesn't have.)

Then there were callers who wanted to ask me personal questions. To certain men, a female entity who is available and yet untouchable, one who might be coaxed into a confession of her own, is an irresistible challenge. At least I am, in fact, a woman. In the case of Siri, while the voice is female, those guys are actually engaging in sexual banter with a bunch of computer geeks—many of whom are probably not beautiful women.

People crave personal attention and understanding, but they fear judgment and rejection. That's why the sex industry exists, of course, and that's why any situation where one can feel as though you're getting the former without risking the latter is compellingly attractive. I'd prefer to think humans can still outperform machines in this area. However, in a world accustomed to instant downloads and constant multitasking, it's only a matter of time before someone rolls out the ultimate all-in-one combination: a Sirilike program housed in a robot sex doll. Let's hope they won't program it with any unsettling quotes from 2001: A Space Odyssey. recommended


Comments (3) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I don't want any machine that talks to me. The first thing I did when I got a GPS was to turn off that superior female voice which was always "recalculating!"
Posted by Freddo on November 16, 2011 at 8:07 PM · Report this
Ouch, MM. You are not engaging with the computer geeks (but we are the most sex-obsessed people on Earth, I do agree with that).

It's easy for a human to believe they are engaging with Siri, and that Siri is both intelligent and real. Humans are hard wired to believe their senses, and their senses are telling them there is a human in their iPhone 4S. We have no innate sense for interacting with a piece of software that spent years in development and testing with professional psychologists helping design it to appear 'more human that human'.

I don't think Siri could pass a Turing Test, but I think the idea of a pocket assistant with some level of speech recognition could really take off. Instead of me spending 10 seconds googling, I can just ask my phone to do it for me, and boom, just like in Star Trek. Don't you think ordering your phone to do something would be fun?

Now, I will admit that the idea of an AI sex doll is way into uncanny valley territory. That being said, reportedly when railroads were first spreading across the world people would grip their seats in white-knuckled terror at going 20mph, so, all things in time.
Posted by JoeCool on November 17, 2011 at 4:14 PM · Report this
Holmes 3
Stop anthropomorphizing computers. They hate that.
Posted by Holmes on November 26, 2011 at 7:29 PM · Report this

Add a comment