Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Siri-usly Wondering

Unless you’re Amish my guess is that by now you’ve seen the commercials promising a happier, more informed life – led by Siri. A life where

  • Morons can enter Death Valley with an almost empty gas tank and then query their iPhone to find the closest fueling station

  • Women looking for an excuse to avoid romantic moments with their gorgeous male escort can feign an interest in locating constellations by asking Siri to reveal one (if they had any real interest in astronomy, they would know without asking Siri)

  • Couples who have been instructed by their marriage counselors to spend more time together can use Siri to schedule their spontaneous moments

My oldest son, who is not usually a fan of Apple – for reasons that are fodder for another blog, told me earlier this week that he is actually considering getting an iPhone, because of Siri. If there was a 12 step program for gadget junkies, he would be the organization’s poster child – always on the prowl for some new toy but jaded by the sheer volume of technological marvels that are now so plentiful and so cheap. Siri has captured his attention and he’s moving toward her, like a sailor lured by a siren – full speed ahead and to hell with the boulders! When he speaks about Siri, his tone holds the kind of awe and wonder that should be reserved for discussions about the wife that has given him six children. He can recount one Siri-spoken marvel after another, the way a bookie can tell you the odds on every horse in a major race.

One such recounting was about a gentleman who had, since childhood, made a game of contemplating the destinations of jets passing overhead. Siri can, upon request, provide that information. The gentleman reports that he can now stand in his own front yard, look up, and say something specific that roughly translates to “Siri, give me the destinations of planes overhead.” Siri processes his GPS location, taps into some governmental flight tracking database, and delivers the answer faster than the man can draw another breath. Many of us grew up having to rely on our parents to get us to the library, according to a pre-set plan, so that we could do the research we needed for school reports that were coming due. If you know what I’m talking about – those days where we measured wait time in days or weeks rather than nano or pico seconds - that kind of information delivered as an instantaneous response to a voiced question is magical indeed. And yet, when my son was recounting the anecdote to me, the phrase beating a repetitive refrain in my head was “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”.

I hope his new found ability to get an answer and get it so rapidly serves that gentleman well because it was purchased with the magic of gazing into the sky and simply wondering or imagining where those jets might be taking their passengers. Is that REALLY a better life?

1 comment:

  1. I don't get Siri. I have always told my kids that they need to "Stop and Smell the Roses" once in awhile!! In fact when they were little we had stop and smell the roses days. And yes, they hated them!!

    xoxo Karen