Mossberg: Why does Apple’s Siri seem so dumb?

“In addition to the iPhone, Siri is now on the iPad, and was recently added to the Mac. It’s also on Apple TV. Via the phone, it’s the key user interface in Apple’s CarPlay infotainment system for autos and even the soon-to-be-released wireless AirPod earbuds,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “Siri is also the point of the spear for Apple in the coming tech war, just getting started, to make artificial intelligence a natural, conversational part of your world — at home, on your phone, in your car, everywhere. And Apple had a big head start with Siri.”

“So why does Siri seem so dumb? Why are its talents so limited? Why does it stumble so often?” Mossberg writes. “When was the last time Siri delighted you with a satisfying and surprising answer or action?”

“For me at least, and for many people I know, it’s been years,” Mossberg writes. “It seems to me that Apple has wasted its lead with Siri. And now Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and others are on the march… In its current incarnation, Siri is too limited and unreliable to be an effective weapon for Apple in the coming AI wars. It seems stagnant.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Because Apple values their users’ privacy — unlike all of the other outfits’ mentioned — and their work on Differential Privacy has only just begun.

Apple releases tvOS 10 with new Siri features, improved search, dark mode, and more – September 13, 2016
Apple’s Siri is set to control your home – September 6, 2016
Personal assistant bots like Apple’s Siri have a serious problem – July 18, 2016
Tim Bajarin: Siri is crucial to the Apple’s future – July 5, 2016
Apple’s Siri feels like a true personal assistant on Macintosh – July 1, 2016
The time has come to think different about Apple’s Siri – June 30, 2016
Conversing with Apple’s Siri in macOS Sierra already feels almost natural – June 22, 2016
Apple’s Siri digital assistant made Cortana look bad at WWDC – June 14, 2016


  1. First the right wing drivel here is the best of the “let me jerk off in my parents’ basement” sentiment so prevalent amopng the intelligensia.

    second, Siri was a great product until you apple fanbois fucked it up by adding Apple’s superior “intelligence”.

    Apple is like all you assholes posting on this site- long on bullshit short on delivery

  2. For me Siri is semi-useful and I have a great internet connection. When I am mobile Siri fails as often as succeeds. Siri should not have to need an internet connection to find a contact or song that is physically on my phone.

    1. That connectivity affecting Personal Assistants’ functionality is an interesting point. Has there ever been a comparison video done on competing devices when out and about with flaky or no Internet connectivity?

  3. Google voice search, Amazon’s Alexa both make Siri look like a junior high science project. Kudos to Apple for essentially abandoning development on the platform while still pushing it out to other devices.. that’s just weird. Why bring it to the Mac in its crippled form? It’s not cute anymore and not getting any better. I just leave it off and ignore it in favor of stuff that “just works”

  4. For years while driving I would ask Siri to read my stocks, and she would read them from my stock app. Then she suddenly started responding to the same request with a general response about the indexes. Sometimes she will display the stocks on the screen and may, or may not, read them aloud after a second request to read them. Why, after years of working, did she become stupid and inconsistent.
    Like Walt, I find she correctly interprets speech but then reinterprets the question wrong. I also find that she is screwing up Maps, which always functioned great for me. I request the destination, the request is correctly parsed, and then she re-interprets the request with some sound-alike place in another city. This has been getting worse over the last two years after years of accuracy. WTF.

  5. As ever, my rant about AI:

    There’s no thing as actual ‘artificial intelligence’. Tearing down all the current voice assistant systems, what you get is:
    A) Improved voice recognition compared to clunky old Plaintalk, mostly thanks to Dragon as provided by Nuance.
    B) Speech to text translation with the text typically sent off to a server on the Internet.
    C) An expert system database of answers and available associated resources.
    D) Transmission of the text back from the expert system to the computer client program.
    E) Translation of the expert system text into voice and HTML in the client program. (Oddly, Siri on Mac so far uses mostly poor quality voices compared to the best Plaintalk voices. Why? To save on resources? Not impressive).

    Where’s the “intelligence”? It’s still based on expert system database traversal. Expert systems have been around since the 1970s. The speed of expert systems, their databases and the grammar of their text output has improved considerably! But they are NOT ‘intelligent’ compared to the human mind. ‘Artificial intelligence’ remains a hyped marketing term while actual progress in actual artificial intelligence remains very slow. Alan Turing would be greatly impressed, but he died in 1954.

  6. Agree. I give Siri a new go after every major iOS update and I’m always disappointed. The last time I asked how long to cook a 20lb pound turkey and it came back with a list of celebrities whose last names were cook. I know some of them might be turkeys but come on Siri. The worst part was it captured my question correctly but still royally screwed up.

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