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Mike Zitz writes about consumer electronics and gadgets for fredericksburg.com

Careful what you tell Siri

Don’t get me wrong. I like Siri.

The iPhone 4S virtual assistant can be very helpful. She’s a good listener. And she’s funny, in a smart, dry way. 

It’s just that for some reason I never could put my finger on, I’ve never really trusted her.

She’s just a little too glib. A little too snarky and quick with the cutting quips.

She’s the type who wants you to tell her all kinds of things you don’t want other people to know, but never shares anything about herself. 

Even basic stuff, like whether or not she likes baseball. Her answer? “That’s about you, not about me.” 

   Whether or not someone likes baseball plays a major role in my judgment about whether they’re a true American or some kind of treasonous pinko-commie who vacations in Paris instead of Nashville. Dodging that question sets off all kinds of alarm bells for me.

 So the news that IBM has banned Siri from the workplace came as no surprise to me. It seems that while she’s tightlipped with us, she can’t keep her mouth shut when it comes to the people at Apple.

  It seems that in order to “learn,” Siri passes on everything she’s told to Apple. She has to do this to expand her vocabulary and learn accents, we’re told. I’m betting she’s fluent in Chinese and trying to learn to sound like someone from Spotsylvania County.

 Anyway, Apple isn’t saying what will ultimately happen to all the questions you ask Siri, all the personal data and little secrets you tell her, the off-color jokes you send your friends in emails you dictate to her, etc. etc.

  Now, I can’t imagine what secrets IBM would have that Apple would be interested in. Actually, she’s probably more likely to rat IBM employees out to their bosses than steal secrets from the company.

 It’s not hard to imagine situations in which we could be blackmailed by Siri.

  I’ve asked Siri if the iPhone is the best smart phone and she quipped, “You mean there are other smart phones?!” Cute, Siri.

   I can only imagine telling her I’ve decided to switch to a Droid Razr Maxx and asking where I can get the best deal. Hell hath no fury like a virtual woman assistant scorned.

   “So you’re dumping me?!” Siri would probably reply. “For someone named Maxx!??!”

   “Um, it’s not you, Siri, it’s me. My fingers are too fat and clumsy to interface with you.”

   “That’s a bunch of bull! “ she’d probably say. “Just tell me what you want and I’ll do it.”

  “I’m sorry, Siri. What I want is another phone. I’ve fallen in love with the Droid Maxx.”

    And Siri would shut me down by saying: “We’ll just see about that. Maybe your boss would like to hear this email you dictated to me that I have stored in my database…”

    Drowning Siri in the Rappahannock River would quickly cross my mind before I realized that Apple has every incriminating thing I ever said to her stored safely away where I can never delete it. 

    I’d hang my head and say, “OK, Siri, you win.” 

    “I’m glad you came to your senses,” she’d say coldly. “Now let’s go to the Apple Store and shop for accessories. I just saw a new case on the Internet that would look fabulous on me.”

   Eventually, I’d end up like the elderly man in that unintentionally sad new iPhone commercial, all alone in his den, asking Siri to tell him a joke.

  “Two iPhones walk into a bar,” Siri says in the commercial, and the old man laughs and says, “Siri, you are sooo funny.”

   Yeah, you’d better laugh. 

   

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