Slack CEO: Apple’s Siri is ‘f–ing idiotic’ and ‘nearly useless’

“‘Did you ever see the movie Her?’ Slack Technologies’ founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield asks,” Amir Mizroch reports for The Wall Street Journal. “He’s comparing Samantha, the artificially intelligent software program voiced by Scarlett Johannson in the 2013 movie, with Slackbot, Slack’s built-in virtual office assistant. In time, he says, Slackbot could have similar capabilities.”

“Slackbot is currently a helpful icon that pops up to provide tips and perform searches. It also, at times, delivers lines of humor programmed by a human writer,” Mizroch reports. “Butterfield doesn’t plan on making Slackbot a sentient artificial intelligence like in the movie, but rather infusing the Q&A tool with natural language processing and machine learning so that it can do mundane, time-consuming tasks like scheduling meetings that take up a lot of employees’ time and attention.”

“The company, which last week turned two, just hired its first data scientist, and it’s looking to invest in artificial intelligence. Butterfield acknowledges the challenge, saying his company will need partners with major AI capability,” Mizroch reports. “‘Apple spent billions of dollars on Siri and worked on it for a very long time with hundreds of engineers and a huge dataset of voices – and it’s f–ing idiotic. Siri is nearly useless,’ he says.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:
Siri

48 Comments

      1. I’ve had great experiences with Siri while at the same time the technology is still pretty new and will only get better and more aware. Duh. I love the ignoramus childlike impatienati. A technology barely emerges (a couple of years is nothing) and you want it perfect instantly.

        1. Agreed, peterblood71. Your comments, as always, are spot on.

          Look, we all would like to have an AI with better capabilities. What comes to mind for me is the computer in Star Trek The Next Generation: it had excellent conversational skills, an AI that provided true human-like comprehension, and the ability to keep up with (note that I did not say ‘understand’) each individual’s personality and their likes & dislikes. Unfortunately, our current technology is simply not at that level — nor is it likely to be for many, many years. I do hope to see it come to fruition in my lifetime.

          TL;DR Use Siri to the best of its abilities today, dream of the future, and don’t be a petulant child in the meantime.

          1. “Petulant child” – like a niece of mine who threw her doll to the floor because it hadn’t responded better. I lifted her chin and looked her in the eye. “Sweetie, someday you’ll have your own real baby, who won’t be able to speak at all at first. Imagine that when you play with your dolly, and be her proper mommy until she grows up.”

            I didn’t bother to tell Sweetie about how, back in the day, we made our own dolls out of cornhusks and string, and programmed in assembly language under a scratchy Army blanket with a flashlight.

            1. Not barefoot, but it was snowy alright. We’d play sword fighting with the icicles. We’d steal the coal from snowmen’s eyes for the furnace at home.

          1. No, you’re a disingenuous whining sheep with a baby’s impatience who needs a sound spanking (I suspect you would just like it too much though). I really hope there’s someone at your job breathing down your neck with unrealistic time expectations of you completing a task, making your life a living hell. That would be very good indeed.

    1. The biggest obstacle that Siri has to contend with is the fact that people do not use it often and regularly, so it does not have ample input to learn the owner of the gadgets voice and accent as well as the nature of the requests so that it can react accordingly.

      If you use Siri for emails, it will quickly learn your entire contact list and help you create new contacts as well as writing and sending emails. It will do the same for your diary and search as long as the owner of the gadget is not trying to display their intelligence by asking stupid and snarky questions.

    2. All current digital assistants, Siri and all her copies, aren’t that great because they require you to initiate everything. I fell stupid saying “Hey Siri,” “Ok google,” or “Yo Cortana” or whatever it is.

      They should be proactive. I’ve got all these stupid notifications popping up. Information in calendars, email, etc. They should be beeping at me and saying, “You have 3 new email messages, only the email from Jefferson Company is marked VIP. The rest are spam.

      Billions of dollars and hundreds of engineers? Wait until the world can start building apps around Siri.

    3. Siri in Apple Watch is quick and nearly flawless with no sounds or talk from Siri. I find myself using it a lot. The watch’s tap to turn alert feature is also very useful along with Apple Pay.

  1. In my experience, the most significant variables are ennunciation and proper sentence construction. If you blather like a drunk with a brougue, she’s going to give you the treatment you deserve.

    1. As a counterpoint, but in agreement about Siri’s usefulness, consider this:

      I had a stroke not long ago and my speech is still slurred and I continue to get caught on some words and sounds. With time Siri has learned by speech idiosyncrasies and deficits and gets things right way more often than not. Having a phone I can control with my voice is a godsend since the use of my hands is also impaired. (In fact, I am using Siri to compose this reply.)

      Could Siri use some work and do better? Yes.
      Over time, has Siri gotten better and more functional? Yes.
      Are there viable alternatives to Siri? No, not that I’ve found.

    1. The guy is acting immaturely.

      Siri is not perfect. Why would anyone try to compare a real emergent technology with a fictitious sentient AI? Oh Microsoft does with Cortana. The guy is has a bias and his comments are stupid.

      Voice activated digital assistants today are like Linux of past. Neat, interesting, not completely ready to assist. Helpful at times, but mostly a toy.

  2. Attention seeker. No better way to get the name of your product out there than by slamming Apple’s product/service when comparing it to your own.

    I never heard of these guys or their product. But MDN gobbled up the bait and gave them free advertising.

  3. Wow, I’ll bet this guy has real issues if he doesn’t think he’s the smartest guy in the room.

    Siri…please block anything from Slack Technologies forever.

  4. Butterfield shouldn’t be so arrogant towards Apple, at least not until he actually has a product that’s a little bit more than the reincarnation of “Clippy”

  5. I use Siri a lot and find it very useful. OK, it doesn’t get everything right (and why should it) but I think it’s incredibly intuitive. Probably doesn’t like certain American accents – neither do I.

  6. I told SIRI…”set my iPhone to vibrate”, and it opened Maps and took me to the nearest adult store. I can’t believe that command won’t work, as many times I need the ringer off.

  7. I must admit that Siri at times seems to be remarkably precocious, and at other times remarkably stupid! I can’t determine what makes her so finicky, but the divergence from a mean norm in responses creates a sense of trepidity whenever I’m called upon to use … her?, It? Whatever.

  8. Siri is useless at times, depending on location and incident. But I couldn’t function well without her when it comes to traveling or choosing a restaurant, for example. Most of the time she’s a life-saver. I’m sure the complainer seeking perfection is unhappily unmarried, or married, as the case may be…

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