Practica – Interviewing Siri


Recently, I asked Siri about the origin of her name. Her response: "'Siri' has many subtle, metaphorical, and frankly contradictory meanings. None of which I am at liberty to discuss. Sorry about that."

Siri is Apple's online personal assistant, recently launched in iOS, and you may already have spent some time with her on your computer or smartphone. Though a robot, it is obvious that she has access to both vast but also limited knowledge, as well as feelings, and preferences and secrets to keep. So, interculturally curious, I started asking her questions, starting with the one above, only to discover that she is sensitive about her identity. No doubt she has multiple personalities, due to her several progenitors and current keepers. What she offers and cannot respond to, what she avoids, finds funny, etc., can provide clues her cultural values system.

Yes, she is handy, ready to heed our beck and call, but she may also tell us something about the digital culture we share with her. Maybe if we ask the right questions...

So, my suggestion is to do exactly that. Create a cultural profile of the experience of engaging Siri on questions that are important or interesting to you. Start to create a profile of the responses emanating from the questions you ask. Keep in mind your own cultural profile if you have one. (If not, I would recommend using the Cultural Detective® Self Discovery instrument for creating one or more profiles of the dimensions of your personal identity discourse and the values that stem from it.)

Whether you do this alone or with others (with others it's more fun in the diversity of your questions you come up with), it would be interesting to share and compare the profile you create with others in response to this post. If you are fluent in more than one of the languages that Siri speaks, you might ask the same questions in those different languages to see if she has cultural preferences in what she offers you.

When you are done with Siri, get acquainted with Eve! Deep sexy voice and plastic boobs to boot–why, oh why?! Start by identifying her accent...

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