Artificial Unintelligence or the Day Siri Tried to Get Me Fired

So, there are entire site dedicated to the devil that is autocorrect. We have all seen and probably laughed heartily at the Freudian slips that our various communication devices seem to enjoy using to our abject horror. There are times when I am amazed and baffled at the hash that the circuitry seems to make of my simple exchanges. For example, who on earth would have gotten “Quetzalcoatl” from “mayonnaise”? For that matter, what the hell was the Aztec deity of wisdom and life doing in my phone in the first place?!? Points to ponder, that… Anyhow, as I was saying we all know that autocorrect is the bane of any neutrally classified conversation and the algorhythms thereof appear to have been deliberately programmed by a pubescent brain with a naughty streak that makes sexual innuendos from Captain Jack Harkness look like Sesame Street (extra points for those who got the reference). However, I believe that the voice activated artificial intelligence that have given personality to our smart phones may have exceeded even that threshold.

Though many of my brethren and sisters out there may have gone with other operating systems and their own flavors of artificial assistance, I have adhered to the evil fruity empire and that particular nemesis of my own… Siri. Please excuse my language, but Siri is an unmitigated bitch and works actively to make my life a more difficult place to live.

What could you possibly mean, Tananda? Siri does not have emotions or sentient thought. She is but a mere collection of programming and circuitry with only dichotomy decision making and search routines.

That’s just what she wants you to think!

Most people have the experience with Siri and other forms of electronic assistants of misunderstood speech and less than helpful answers. There was a whole range of commercials that made fun of GPS map systems with “RECALCULATING” as a regular punchline. Again, they are probably an easy target for humor since they have relatively simple interface and regardless of the progress one might perceive towards science-fiction-like computers and robotics, these devices are still in grammar school by comparison. It isn’t a negative observation, it is just realistic judgment of the initial stages of true human-to-machine interaction. To be completely honest, I’m not sure I want these things to get too clever. I’ve seen the movies, I don’t want to be controlled by our mechanical overlords, thanks.

Siri has, to this date, gotten me lost in some very unsavory situations and locations. She has a determined lack of desire to allow me to contact my mother by calling or texting. Instead she prefers to attempt to send the messages meant for my mother, my husband, or friends to business contacts and superiors who might not really appreciate being told that I love them or asking about various locations for planned debauchery. More than once I have attempted to ask the cow to “Call mom” or “Text Ted” to have her say, “What would you like to say to Doug Rodgers?” Seriously… or should that be Siriously?!? How on earth did she get that name from “mom” or “Ted”? It can lead to what I might like to call… “complications.” I’ve been brought to the brink of violence towards this disembodied entity that resides in my phone. More than once I have been diminished to the point of cursing at her with a string of profanity that rivals George Carlin’s Seven-Words-You-Can’t-Say-On-Television. To which Siri (proving that she is passive aggressive and has a seriously sadistic bent) replied “Okie Dokie, artichoke” at one time and “I was merely trying to help” at another. See what I mean?!? She’s evil. However, nothing quite compares to the day Siri tried to get me fired.

That is what I said. You read it correctly. It is my sincerest belief that while Siri is supposed to be without true sentience or personality, she secretly has “woken up” and become my archenemy and wants me to die a horrible death… or at very least be fired and forced to live in ignominy and humiliation for the rest of my days. So, for the record, I’m putting it on paper… well, not paper, but electronic version thereof… you know what I mean! I want witnesses dammit!!!

For those of you who do not know, I am actually a manager of a team of outreach specialists in the field of healthcare. I have quite a number of them who work for me, but in the infancy of the program, I had but three. Bless them, they worked hard and put up with all my stumbling attempts to define what our program would become. It was a struggle, but we made it… and I digress. As it happens, one of my first employees was male. He came to our employment relationship well recommended with a good many years of experience already under his belt. We’ve since that time gotten to know each other pretty well, but starting out, things were the stiff and professional interactions you might recognize. Everything was still very new and personalities were still figuring themselves out a tad. I primarily was trying to do my best to give an impression of professionalism to inspire confidence in the people working for me.

So, as the business day came to a close one evening, I was heading across town in my jeep. Like a good many people in the workforce today who need to communicate quickly in a variety of circumstances, my crew uses texting. Before any of the HIPAA-aware folks out there start freaking out, no protected health information flows through these lines. It is primarily a way of addressing generic information and safety considerations. Things like, “I’m leaving” or “I’ve arrived” to indicated things that the police have lovely codes for like 10-8 or 10-77.

On this particular day, we had been struggling with a case and trying to access resources in a very short timeframe. My staff member texted me as I was driving to say something along the lines of being unable to fulfill all the requests that were made of us that day.

Now, I’m not one of those who will text and drive. I’ve always seen it as dangerous, and given my propensity for clumsiness and lack of coordination, it would just be idiotic not to mention being illegal in most states these days. However, I do have Siri to assist me with these things. She asked, “Do you wish to respond?” I answered in the affirmative, and Siri said “What would you like to say to….?” So, I responded by speaking into the air, “That’s ok. We will just have to deal with the rest tomorrow.” Now, for those of you familiar with the interface in question, you know that she repeats the message back. For those unfamiliar, the next horrifying response from Siri was, “Your message to … says ‘Ok. I guess I’ll show you my breasts tomorrow.’ Do you wish to send?”

As you might imagine, for all my safety precautions using hands-free options and avoiding texting while driving, I nearly capsized my poor vehicle attempting to prevent that missive from sending along the airwaves. Imagine if you will, me trying to capture from the air the words as in slow motion the word “Noooooooooooo” flies out of my mouth. I could see the nightmare before me during my exit interview in human resources, “So, Dr. Haren, can you please help us understand how you thought it appropriate to sexually harass your employee by threatening him with your breasts?” Oh yeah, that would have been a hoot! Now, looking back, it makes for an enormously humorous situation that we can all get a chuckle from, but I can still almost capture that moment of panic when I thought Siri would likely send the message anyway.

As it stands, I’m still employed and not under any investigations for inappropriate conduct. I have foiled the little electronic @#$% so far. May I continue to be vigilant!

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