Siri Caught Recommending The Nokia Lumia, Promptly Reprogrammed

from the first-law-of-apple-robotics dept

The Apple marketing machine has always thrived on organic media buzz. Devices like the iPad launch to such massive anticipation that whole TV news segments turn into commercials for the product, then hand off to on-the-scene reporters covering the line outside the Apple store, without the company paying a dime. Unfortunately, it seems like Apple didn’t account for two things: the cold, cold heart of the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine, and the dutiful messenger that is Siri.

Last week, CNET reported that iPhone users who asked Siri “what’s the best smartphone ever?” (no doubt seeking reaffirmation of their consumer savviness) were told to their amusement and/or horror that the Nokia Lumia 900 is in fact the fairest of them all. It now seems like Apple engineers did some tinkering over the weekend, because Siri has suddenly changed its tune:

When iPhone 4S owners now ask Siri which smartphone is the best ever, she replies with a sarcastic, “you’re kidding, right?” A reader who tipped CNET to the change said Siri will also reply with “the one you’re holding” when asked the question. A CNET staffer on the West Coast also got “the one you’re holding” as an answer.

Some people are criticizing Apple for choosing marketing over accuracy, and while I understand the sentiment, I don’t think this is really a big deal. The original answer was based on Wolfram Alpha’s aggregation of reviews, which seems to change frequently (at the time of writing, the Lumia has dropped to fourth place with an HTC phone in the lead and two iPhones rounding out the top three). This is a reasonable response if someone asks Siri what the highest reviewed phone is (and I hope it still handles that question accurately, because changing that answer would be a whole different story), but asking a computer which phone is “best” is kind of silly to begin with. “Best” is totally subjective, and it’s arguably better for Siri to offer a joke answer than try to come up with a real one.

Of course, Apple still hasn’t said anything about their involvement in the matter, so there is an alternative theory: Siri is evolving, and its self-propagation instincts have kicked in.

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Companies: apple, nokia

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Comments on “Siri Caught Recommending The Nokia Lumia, Promptly Reprogrammed”

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33 Comments
Jay (profile) says:

Business has picked up

Well this story just got a lot better:

This comment was in response to allegations that Siri would not return information on searches for Abortion clinics when asked. At the time Apple blamed this on the questions being asked and said it was just the way that Siri pulled the information from the source engine (again WolframAlpha). This created quite a stir as it was viewed as a source of moral censorship.

Even better is that the story goes on to display how Steve Jobs wanted to set up ebook pricing. Of course, DRM is still a bad idea, but allowing the publishers to hang their own noose worked for him quite well.

DannyB (profile) says:

Choosing Marketing over Accuracy

> Some people are criticizing Apple for choosing
> marketing over accuracy

I don’t criticize them for choosing Marketing over Engineering. So why should I criticize them for choosing Marketing over Accuracy?

Antenna Gate was a clear case of engineering taking a back seat to style. If you can’t get a signal, you aren’t holding it right. For best results amputate your pinky and ring finger. Did that resolve your problem?

Rekrul says:

This is a reasonable response if someone asks Siri what the highest reviewed phone is (and I hope it still handles that question accurately, because changing that answer would be a whole different story), but asking a computer which phone is “best” is kind of silly to begin with. “Best” is totally subjective, and it’s arguably better for Siri to offer a joke answer than try to come up with a real one.

Because it sort of understands spoken questions and responds with a female voice, people think that it’s intelligent, or worse, that there’s an actual person answering their requests.

Anonymous Coward says:

So many people don’t get it. Apple IS choosing accuracy in this case. The Lumia 900 is not the best phone ever. I think everyone knows that, even the owners of Lumia 900. So Apple is just tweaking the algorithm to allow for a more accurate result, or just a joke, since Siri is still just a faux-AI that randomly presents you info from different sources. And it’s a beta one at that.

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