I read an interesting article about Siri in the Huffington Post Technology section this weekend. Apparently Siri was not created at Apple. Siri was the brain child of a group of young computer geeks working for the Defense Department to develop artificial intelligence. The original Siri did not speak; she answered questions in print on the computer or mobile screen. She was apparently quite irreverent and liked sarcasm and wit, but did not mince words. Siri could swear. Siri was also designed to be something called a “do” engine, instead of a “search” engine. Rather than send you a list of restaurants, Siri would pick one for you based on your location and your past preferences and she would make reservations on the date and at the time of your choice. If you were planning a trip Siri could zero in on the one that best met your criteria. Rather than supply a list of sites for you to include in your research, Siri would complete the research for you. In other words, Siri could learn and reason.
Why don’t we have that Siri? When Apple bought Siri they watered her down. They did give her a voice and they programmed her to operate in many languages, but they took away her swear words and toned down her sassiness. And they turned her into a “search” engine instead of a “do” engine. However if the technology could be created by one set of “geeks”, it can definitely be recreated by some other set of IT guys. If they do then Apple will probably lose out because some other company will get control of a similar program and run it without the dilutions. The public will win because we will gain a useful personal assistant, but Apple could lose, seeing their stock lose even more value. Apple still has the advantage here because they own the original Siri programs and can wring out the excess “water” anytime they wish.
Here’s the link to the article that I have been paraphrasing. There is a lot more detail there for you techies.
SIRI RISING: The Inside Story Of Siri’s Origins — And Why She Could Overshadow The iPhone