Revenge of the Machine

imageWhen I read about machines that can learn, my mind flew from science to science fiction.

Can machines really learn?

I always thought that’s what they meant by intelligent design–that machines were programmed to respond intelligently to new stimuli.

But Siri, the voice-recognition device on my computer tablet and mobile phone, treats me differently than Honey.

Not my imagination, I swear.

Without hyperbole let me tell you how I arrived at this conclusion.

When I first learned about Siri I created a shopping list by ordering commands: Go to the bank, go to the store, etc.

When I looked at the list, Siri typed, Go to hell.

When I asked my phone Siri on which day Summer Solstice falls, she responded June 22.

When Honey asked his phone Siri on which day Summer Solstice falls, she responded June 22. And I hope you get the day off.

Clearly they have a special relationship.

Uncredited photo from


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in neuroscience, science, science communication, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Revenge of the Machine

  1. jumeirajames says:

    I love the idea of intelligent machines. In my book, the ‘ghosts in the machine’ are more intelligent than the people who programmed it. I know its an old theme but these guys, the bots, are designed to be the civil service of a world government, not killers or anything.

    Have a look at this (I’m not promoting the book or anything, SIRI called me and asked me to explain)


  2. jumeirajames says:

    Watch the video – and brace yourself.

    ps I own all the images and the music, no copyright issues.


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