Will we ever really talk with the machines?

Apple’s Siri is an intelligent personal assistant – but it doesn’t take much to stump her. Photograph: Alamy Like many people nowadays, I do not talk on my iPhone as much as talk to it. That’s because it runs a program called Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface) that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator. It’s useful, in a way. If I ask it for “weather in London today”, it’ll present an hour-by-hour weather forecast. Tell it to “phone home” and it’ll make a decent effort to find the relevant number. Ask it to “text James” and it will come back with: “What do you want to say to James?” Not exactly Socratic dialogue, but it has its uses. Ask Siri: “What’s the meaning of life?”, however,…


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