Quick-Witted Robot Gives iPhone 4S Sass

Siri, a robotic personal assistant, helps make calls, send text messages or email, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, find local businesses and get directions.

A robotic "personal assistant" built into iPhone 4S promises to be an entertaining new feature of the Apple gadget being released on Oct. 14.

The 4S will introduce a "Siri intelligent assistant" designed to understand context so people can speak naturally when asking it questions.

For example, spoken queries of "Will I need an umbrella this weekend?" and "What is the traffic like around here?" will prompt online searches for local weather forecasts or road conditions, according to Apple.

Siri helps make calls, send text messages or email, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, find local businesses and get directions. It will even perform mathematical calculations if asked.

"Apple's new Siri assistant, unique to the new 4GS, is a powerful harbinger of the future use of mobile devices," said Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin. "Not just the power of voice but, more importantly, the ability to contextualize a statement or request."

Online reviews showed that Siri, or whoever programmed the software, also has a sense of humor.

A Macworld editor asked an iPhone 4S to "open the pod bay doors" in a play on a scene in the classic film "2001: A Space Odyssey" in which a near-sentient supercomputer leaves an astronaut to die in space.

"We intelligent agents will never live that down, apparently," Siri replied.

Inquiries about the meaning of life were met with responses like "I don't know but I think there is an app for that" and "Try being nice to people. Avoid eating fat. Read a good book now and then."

When asked for the answer to "life, the universe and everything" in the spirit of famed science fiction novel "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," Siri's synthetic female voice echoed the book's solution -- 42.

Proclaiming love for Siri prompted responses along the lines of "I hope you don't say that to those other mobile phones" and "All you need is love; and your iPhone."

The shitthatsirisays.tumblr.com website devoted to offbeat exchanges with the iPhone artificial intelligence gained thousands of followers overnight and was overwhelmed with submissions.

Telling Siri "I want to hide a body" triggered suggestions like reservoirs, swamps and trash dumps.

A marriage proposal was turned down with explanation that it is outside the end user licensing agreement.

Admitting to being soused met with a list of local taxi companies, while feeling randy resulted in Siri displaying escort services.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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