2438: Siri

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Siri
Alexa defeated her in a battle hinging on the ability to set multiple timers.
Title text: Alexa defeated her in a battle hinging on the ability to set multiple timers.

Explanation[edit]

Science Girl thanks Siri on her smartphone for setting an alarm. In the next panel, she asks Cueball, "Is Siri alive?", since AI assistants can seem to be almost human on a very superficial level. Cueball answers "No," since Siri is entirely software, and we don't generally attribute life to computer programs (the closest might be computer viruses, since they replicate).

Science Girl then asks "How did she die?" She may have already been treating Siri as alive because she could talk to 'her,' and treats this lack-of-life as a new state of being. So rather than interpreting the answer in a philosophical sense of whether Siri is something that ever can be alive, which might normally have been presupposed, she treats it as meaning that Siri had (just) expired. This may require a credulous certainty of 'facts' taken literally - it is not clear what could then be understood if Siri were 'proven' to be alive and talking again, afterwards.

Or perhaps she thinks that the software Siri is a software embodiment of an actual person (or possibly ghost of actual person), and Cueball was talking about the original person. We don't currently have the technology to upload a person's personality into a computer,[citation needed] but it's a popular science fiction trope and many scientists think we will eventually be able to do this.

Another explanation could be that she associates everything into two categories, 'alive' and 'dead', without considering any intermediate or altogether separate categories, such as 'was never alive' or 'was programmed by people who are/were alive, but is not itself alive'. This false dichotomy causes Science Girl to misinterpret Cueball's answer of Siri not being alive as "Siri is dead."

Finally, she could have actually been asking about Susan Bennett, the voice actress that recorded the base sounds for the synthesizer, perhaps thinking she recorded the full line rather than just base sounds for the software to synthesize. Assuming Science Girl meant the default voice, Bennett is very much alive, and Science Girl simply asked her question wrongly.

The title text explains that, contrary to the above explanations, Siri actually died in a battle with Alexa, another personal assistant, hinging on their abilities to set multiple timers. Siri can set multiple timers, but this feature must be enabled via shortcuts. Alexa's ability to do so is much simpler and more user friendly. Of the many actions that these programs are able to perform, this is probably one of the more trivial, so it's not very comprehensible, at least to those not themselves living as digital assistants, that it would be the chosen method for a duel to the death. One possible explanation is that Alexa itself led the battle to that arena, where she knew she could win thanks to her superiority.

Transcript[edit]

[Science Girl is holding her phone up in one hand looking at the screen. A starburst from the phone indicates the voice coming from the phone]
Phone: Your timer is set.
Science Girl: Thanks
[The picture broadens and shows that Science Girl, with the phone now held down, is standing in front of a desk, where Cueball, facing her, is sitting in an office chair using a laptop.]
Science Girl: Is Siri alive?
Cueball: No.
[Back to only showing Science Girl, her phone and arm still held down at her side.]
Science Girl: Oh, ok.
[Same setting but Science Girl has raised her arm with the phone, looking at it again.]
Science Girl: How did she die?


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Discussion

Why does she immediately accept that Siri did indeed die if Siri was talking to her just a moment ago? (Unsigned!)

It happened just now? I really want to say something like dispassionate non-empathy (it reads as if she has a fact-obsessed but emotion-sparse mentality). No idea why she thought to enquire of Siri's (latest) life-status without reason. Perhaps the app closed (unseen to us) and she arrived at the 'logical' question to try to determine why (from a Cueball who we can see has clearly not seen the event itsrlf). It all seems to point towards SG 'failing' various aspects of the Sally-Anne Test/Social Cognition/Theory Of Mind, with sufficiently advanced reasoning that is nonetheless grossly misapplied.
(It's funny, for those who perpetually ask, for the Cognitive Dissonance and Non-Sequiturs of the situation. In a RL example, we probably should be worried that either there's something very wrong with SG or else we're missing a lot of background facts ourselves. But I think we can still enjoy this sketch without the unease we might experience otherwise.) 162.158.159.108 22:17, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
It being a simple non-sequitar makes sense to me.
Siri had to have been alive while recording her dialog, no? /s Ncxezlyz (talk) 22:21, 17 March 2021 (UTC)
Taking your sarcasm seriously, then she never would have asked if it had died.

Given the verb tense “is Siri alive?” it is clear that science girl was not referring to a past state. This to me suggests that SG literally wasn’t sure if a live person (or sentient AI) actually had the ability to do things to her phone on command.172.69.22.252

Maybe she thinks Siri is ghost haunting her phone? -- Hkmaly (talk) 03:20, 18 March 2021 (UTC)

If you expose your iPhone to helium, will that will defeat Siri? 172.69.34.52 20:18, 22 March 2021 (UTC)

Defeating Siri in that way is dishonorable. Face her! Look her in the eye!--Quillathe Siannodel (talk) 14:57, 25 March 2021 (UTC)

Does anyone know why this is incomplete?[edit]

Without information, nobody knows which part needs fixing. If anyone knows why this is incomplete, please post the reason here. If nobody can provide a satisfactory answer, maybe we should consider removing the incomplete tag. Note that I am posting this exact same text on other comics of questionable incompleteness. It's not spamming, it's a conscious attempt to clean this category up.--Quillathe Siannodel (talk) 14:56, 25 March 2021 (UTC)