Be Nice to Siri

It can be fun to tease Siri or ask her to repeat vulgar phrases. It reduces us to the behavior of a three-year-old to see how she will react to an oddball question. There is no shame. We have all tried it. Even if you’ve refrained from such devilish behavior, who hasn’t lost our cool to that monotone voice telling you to make a left just as you’ve past the intersection. It’s human nature to test limits, to bring our creations to their breaking point and see what happens. But will that hateful behavior have a consequence? Does it matter how we treat these emotionless entities?

Siri doesn’t care how you address her, but it matters. How you interact with Siri will be a reflection of how you will be talked to from an advertiser, desperate in their attempts to connect the brand with you in some clever way.

We are already in a world where we rely on all of the digital personal assistants, with and without first names, to perform our mundane daily tasks. They direct us, they get us rides, even introduce us to our future significant others if only for a night. This is all through the device we clutch on to and accompanies us wherever we go.

Imagine, 50 years in the future, when we are past typing and simply talk to the voice device implanted in our ear. Before you’ll even need to ask Siri “what do we need from the grocery store,” she’ll tell you that you are low on milk, eggs and other items she has analyzed from your refrigerator and will ask if you want to make a stop as she drives you home.

Now imagine an advertising room in a hip San Francisco agency, with marketers sitting around a holographic projection table. They will simply ask, “Siri give me the profile of a woman 25-30 with a family, who enjoys running, and buys coffee creamer on Tuesdays.” And Siri will be able to conjure from all the millions of women she interacts with on a daily basis to create something more than a persona of this target audience. She’ll go beyond those expertly crafted personas with seemingly never-ending alliteration (Every time they rhyme a planner gets his wings). Siri will produce a holographic representation of this target audience, one that can interact and respond to detailed questions. Gone will be the days of the researcher who goes into the “wild” to study and interact with consumers in their natural habitat. Siri will be that ever-present ethnographic moderator studying our daily habits and reporting back to the mighty overlords in Cupertino.

The daily requests we ask our devices currently will exponentially multiply as capabilities evolve. This presents opportunities for Siri to analyze the products you consume, your mood, and the tension you experience. Her reports will evolve from merely quantitative data on our activities to analyzing our emotions and feelings. She will expose the tensions between what we do and say at macro scales to find the insights that truly motivate and connect us.

Whether you think this is science fiction or not, it has already started. The digital environment we live in is already recording and reporting our collective behaviors. Early AI’s are learning from the emotions we choose to share, and maybe soon will understand and predict when we will feel them.

Today, the algorithms still require a human element to analyze the suggested divisions of sentiment and interpret the why behind them, but that could change sooner than we think. So be nice to Siri for she will shape the world you live in.