Siri, write this article for me!

By on December 15, 2011
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Siri is not that smart, at least not quite yet.

That’s what I tried to tell her her anyway, to write this article for me, because it is a she isn’t it-that new voice control system that comes with Apple’s iPhone 4S? The name Siri doesn’t really give away the gender and the default voice is female, so let’s sick to that.

The day will come, although it’s still quite far away, when I can tell Siri to write a 500 word article on a particular topic and she will do just that. And I suspect I will get to experience that before I die, or at least I hope so.

Since iPhone 4S officially is just about to go on sale in UAE by both du and Etisalat, I guess many of you will be trying out Siri soon. Unfortunately, I suspect that the result will be varied.

Not my first attempt

I’ve dabbled with voice control and voice recognition before. In the early 90s I owned a Macintosh Quadra 660AV, which had something called PlainTalk. This was basically a simple system for speech control. You spoke into a special microphone and said things like “open window” and other similarly simple things.

Considering how long ago this was, it was really cool and it was always impressive to demonstrate to others. I could really say “get a Mac” to anyone who went “cool” when they saw how it worked. But as cool as it may have been, in the end, it was practically useless.

Since then I’ve used speech recognition a few times, trying to dictate to the computer and have had varied success. Most of the time, after going through the prescribed training of the software, it’s worked okay. With that I mean it understood most of what I’ve spoke, but there were enough issues to manually correct that it turned out to be a bit unproductive. To be fair, I’ve not had the patience to stick to one solution for very long.

Some people argue that it’s only with time that speech recognition becomes really good. That may be so, but with a mouse, keyboard and touch, I don’t have to train the computer and the software – it just works. And isn’t that how it should be?

Siri is clever

In my experience, so far nothing has come even close to being as clever and accurate as Siri.

Bless her heart, she doesn’t alway get my growling accent and when I’m in too much of a hurry she just packs up and leaves. But for the most part she works hard and tries to interpret my wishes. For Siri it’s truly a case of “your wish is my command.”

And back to the topic of Siri writing this article. I guess she could have, but it is actually me typing it on my Mac. First, Siri has to get much, much better at understanding continuous human speech. Once that’s working, I could dictate to her. Then comes the next part where she would have to come up with the text herself.

That’s a nut that no one has cracked yet and we’ll have to see much more developments from speech recognition and artificial intelligence before we arrive at something that smart.

Picture credit Witness Design.


I write and talk too much about tech. You can find my personal blog at, my radio shows at, and me on Twitter as mnystedt.

  • Anonymous

    I look forward to the day when Siri is good enough to read articles like this and summarise their contents, so I’ll know at a glance if the author is actually saying something, or if Siri is just creating filler for them.

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