Readers of In the Shadow of Ares , when viewing commercials for the new Siri application for the iPhone 4S, will likely recognize flashes of “Laura” and “Emily”. The artificially intelligent characters are Mobile Agents or “MAs”, not much bigger than a cell phone, that serve as much more than communication devices.
This app brings today’s cell phones a huge step closer to what we envisioned on Mars in the not-too-distant future. Siri is a voice recognition app that is apparently intelligent enough to not only understand what you say, but to know what you mean:
Talk to Siri as you would to a person. Say something like “Tell my wife I’m running late.” “Remind me to call the vet.” “Any good burger joints around here?” And Siri answers you. It does what you say and finds the information you need. And then it hits you. You’re actually having a conversation with your iPhone.
Like the MAs we envision, and prototypes being developed to assist in exploration activities, the Siri app recognizes location when it provides restaurant options “around here” or when you ask it to “remind me to make a dentist appointment when I get to work”. Better yet, it also figures out what other apps to use based on what you are asking it to do.