Talk to Me, Siri

Friday, October 11, 2013


In Spike Jonze’s upcoming film “Her,” a man falls in love with his Siri-like personal assistant. Brooke speaks to Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist and the Director of User Experience and Research at Intel, who says that humans aren’t just interacting with their devices these days, they’re forming relationships with them


Genevieve Bell

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [4]

B. Bream

Native cultures have known that the world is alive, and now that we exist removed from the natural world, we feel as though something is missing. Add to that the dissolution of the tribal relationship, erosion of the extended family, and institutionalization of what were formerly humane activities. What are we left with? A reasonable facsimile? Hardly. And I for one don't want someone who is driving to be so engaged with Siri that they run me over.
Check out William Gibson's "Idoru".

Oct. 18 2013 08:28 PM

@ MIchael...

Great point: I never thought of it in that way, but thanks for taking the time to explain it. I'm re-listening in order start a discussion on this same issue for my blog, and glad I saw your comment.

Oct. 17 2013 11:48 AM
jim from NJ

your story about Seri and our relationship with technology; reminded me of the Woody Allan stand-up routine and his toaster and the talking elevator

Oct. 16 2013 07:46 PM
Michael Rupp from Williamsville, NY

Just heard recent On The Media, and I'm a BS of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. It always bugs me when people give credit to a device for the pleasure of their interaction.

I agree with the premise that a relationship cannot be had with a device as stated by Brooke Gladstone, but I'm about to add more gravity to her position.

The reason people feel like they are justified in considering a relationship with a device as a real thing is because they are mistaking the delivery device with the sentient being behind the relationship. For example, you the reader of this message are not mistaking the message viewer for the relationship with me, Mike the writer. One step further now, if you answered a wrong number on your phone, but instead of hanging up, had a long and interesting conversation with the stranger, you wouldn't mistakenly credit that relationship with the device you were holding; it would be the person talking through the device that the relationship was with. Now the final step. Siri is software. Software is written by a programmer. A programmer is a stranger. A programmer has preconceived notions of how to react given specific circumstances. That programmer has essentially prepared a conversation with a stranger they might interact with in the future and named that plan Siri. The relationship is with the actress that voices Siri in a small way, and with the programmer(s) that wrote Siri in a large way.

Their will never be a real relationship with a device. The relationship is always with the creator of that device, but because it is indirect, the true credit is misdirected towards the non-sentient device as a proxy.

Oct. 15 2013 11:03 AM

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