I’ve long been a fan of the ideas behind Siri and their artificial intelligence powered personal assistant. Obviously, as a non-iPhone owner, I’ve had to watch from the sidelines on this one, and follow their growth and development somewhat vicariously. I’ve spoken with the developers and those involved with the project at many points along the way (even before they had a product the world could see), and as such have felt a little protective of it.
I’ve also felt a bit paternal about Siri for another reason – many of my first experiences in dealing with and programming for computers had to do with AI. You could say that creating an interactive and utilitarian persona for my computers was a driving force for me getting involved with them in the first place.
That’s why I’m a little upset this morning to hear that Siri, the most promising entrant in this field to date, is being sold to Apple.
In case you’re not familiar with Siri, it’s a program that mashes up every public API it can get it’s hands on, and lets the user interact with them via a fully functional, voice-activated, personality-driven artificial intelligence entity.
One of the things that had me most excited about the far future for this product was the assurances that this product was decidedly destined to other platforms. During one of my conversations in the past with the Siri folks, I explained my prognostication of the eventual de-emphasis I see as inevitable on traditional smartphones I see taking place due to the eventual rise of WiMax networks working in conjunction with netbooks and other similar mobile computing devices.
With that future in mind, I envisioned a more high-powered version of Siri. One that I could carry on a netbook, with an always on connection via a WiMax network. I pictured the fun that could be had should the AI be ported to Android. I was given no clear “yes, it’s happening, and this is the release date,” but I was given the impression that I was thinking in the same space that they were thinking.
Unfortunately, when Siri retreats behind the impenetrable wall of Apple, I won’t get to ask cool questions like this, nor should I expect to see this be more than a feature (albeit, likely a central feature) to the next generation of iDevices.