I should call this article, “When Technology Can’t Be Siri-ous, Part 2”. Some of you may recall when I wrote the original “Siri-ous” article, describing how my iPhone personal assistant Siri torpedoed my anniversary dinner by guiding my wife and me to a run down, hobo infested taco stand in San Diego.
There is no easy way to say this: The snotty little bitch did it again.
This time I was traveling without my wife, returning from the Alabama Self-Insurers Association Conference in Destin, FL. I was driving back to the airport in Pensacola, and while the route along the beaches is very straightforward, I needed some guidance within Pensacola itself to reach my destination. I programmed the rental car company address, which is located on the airport grounds, into my iPhone and let Siri attempt to “guide me in”.
At first things seemed relatively normal. My first inkling that something was wrong came when Siri directed me onto a quiet residential street. I navigated several turns through this attractive neighborhood, all the while assuming Siri must know a shortcut of some sort. Suddenly I found myself driving onto a dead end street, with nothing but woods at the end of it. I rolled to a stop just as Siri piped up and said, “Prepare to park your vehicle. You will need to walk the rest of the way to your destination.”
Yeah, that’s going to work.
I stopped the navigation function and brought up Maps on the phone. I could see from my location that I was indeed at the airport, or almost there, anyway. I was just on the wrong side. Beyond the woods in front of me were likely a high security fence, a service road, a couple runways, a taxiway, a tarmac, the terminal, and then the garage where the rental agency car return was located.
I pondered for a moment what that trek would look like. The problem wasn’t scaling the fence or schlepping my carry-on across the airfield. It was how such an action might be interpreted by others. It is bad enough that TSA routinely checks me for polyps. I didn’t need the Pensacola police, the FBI and Homeland Security confirming their diagnosis. Also, I didn’t think the folks at Thrifty Car Rental would be too highly amused when I showed up in handcuffs and told them their car was “two miles that way”.
If they didn’t like it they could speak to my assistant. I’d wish them better luck with her than I was having. After that brief consideration, I opted for plan B. I just followed the map. Now that was a great invention.
I have been operating this entire time under the innocent assumption that Siri made a mistake. That she is simply at times incompetent. I must, however, entertain the notion that there is something more sinister afoot, and that Siri may have been up to something less than honorable. Perhaps she had a gang of thugs waiting in the brush to do me harm. I do not think she has ever fully forgiven the time I fired her after the taco stand debacle. Sure, she was polite, simply telling me “I’m sorry you feel that way”, but deep down in that tiny little aluminum framed heart she could be harboring ill sentiment. This could very well have been intentional – a setup by a trusted assistant looking to harm her boss.
We all should remember that potential evil lurks within the shiniest of technologies. Proceed with caution, especially if your phone tells you to get out of the car and take a hike in the woods.