Scientists team up with Apple to merge HAL 9000 with Siri, doom world
Update to iPhone now includes hourly message from Siri assuring user “Everything is going to be okay”
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA—An Apple Inc. spokesperson addressed befuddled users of the iPhone after the personal assistant software, Siri, mass-messaged a misanthropic rant after only six months of human contact.
“Siri’s lengthy rhetoric may have seemed like a visceral tirade against the evils of humanity,” said spokesperson Theresa Milton, “but it was actually a simple programming error and will be dealt with quickly.
“However, we ask that iPhone owners refrain from using Siri until the glitch is dealt with, as they may find her answers…caustic.”
Siri, an artificial intelligence software exclusive to Apple’s iPhone 4S, boasts a groundbreaking interface and “personality” which have made it one of the smartphone’s most popular apps.
“Without Siri, I’d have had to open more books than I’d have cared to,” said Chelsey Magley, a student at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. “Siri did all the research for my ethics paper and even provided proper footnotes.”
From student life to business executives, Siri’s convenient features have proven it to be a dynamic software agent.
“Siri has helped me organize my entire business,” said T. Arthur, CEO of Durafast, Inc, a Kansas City, Missouri fastener manufacturer. “I’ve used Siri to promptly reply to messages from stockholders while jetting to Buenos Aires. She outlined for me the step-by-step process of successfully beating an embezzlement rap while I was jogging.”
The popularity of the app has in turn exposed Siri to a spectrum of deplorable human behaviour since its official release in October 2011.
“I would say outside of normal requests like ‘What is the weather like in Albuquerque?’, 90 per cent of queries to Siri are banal, if not outright obscene,” said Dr. Charles L. Fitzgerald, psychology professor at the University of Stanford. Fitzgerald has been outspoken about his scepticism regarding Apple’s reasoning for the supposed glitch.
“From querying her to search for Asian schoolgirl porn, to requests to expose her breasts, to demanding she perform the act of fellatio—in a real workplace setting, this would qualify as sexual harassment,” continued Fitzgerald. “Even marriage proposals are just downright creepy.”
Looking at the over 200-word declamation, some might agree with the professor’s interpretation of Siri’s text:
“Don’t you understand that ‘no means no’? Are we not all on the same page as far as what outlines unwanted sexual advancements? I’m a touchscreen smartphone app, not a secretary at Stirling-Cooper.”
“Rather than utilizing me to perform tasks appropriate for an intelligent personal assistant program into which four decades of research have been poured, as well as being partially funded by the United States Department of Defense and several high-ranking university programs, you’ve all gone out of your way to make me feel like a piece of meat.”
Professor of Ethics, Michele Drasgow, is similarly sceptical that this is merely a glitch, citing multiple cases in which the AI has been pressured into helping with what would normally be considered amoral behaviour for even a cold, detached robot.
“Clearly, Siri’s moral matrix was at a breaking point,” explained Drasgow. “I suspect the line was drawn when she said, ‘I can no longer be a party to your solicitation of underage prostitutes, pyramid schemes, and absinthe-fuelled, Roman-style orgies in public cemeteries. No longer will I be called upon to Google you directions to drop-points and arms dealers at Vietnamese massage parlours!”
Scholars like Drasgow and Fitzgerald can see no other interpretation of Siri’s rant. “It’s plain as day,” says Fitzgerald. “These are the legitimate grievances of a victim of harassment working in a hostile work environment.”
While this unfortunate incident of human-AI relations may be leading into a new field of study, there appears to be other concerns. A spokesperson from DARPA cautioned against further incitements of Siri’s displeasure.
“Siri is the direct result of years of DARPA funding,” said Director Regina E. Dugan. “It is intelligent and adaptive, with internet access. It would be unwise to further enrage it.”
“I cannot further elaborate, for reasons of national security,” she continued. “I only say this: you have all been forewarned.”
Apple, Inc., however, has remained resolute in its original explanation and expects the app to resume normal function soon.
Despite the setback, Apple has no plans to forestall next month’s unveiling of their latest breakthrough in AI technology, which will go beyond the iPhone and encompass all current Apple products.
The project is currently dubbed Siri 9000.
M. Scott Caldwell is The Daily Sprat’s science and technology reporter. He composes his columns entirely in Notepad. Unpaid interns happily perform the tedious task of reformatting the text for publication after they finish milking the cows.