It happens to all of us. You’re having an innocent conversation when you accidentally say a word that sounds like Siri, Alexa, or Google, and your automated assistant speaks up, confused.
Well it looks like that even happens to politicians too, because in the UK House of Commons yesterday, a poor Member of Parliament (MP) was rudely interrupted by his iPhone as he tried to address his fellow colleagues.
He had been addressing the other MPs about Syria, but after mentioning the country by name, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson suddenly found that familiar voice emanating from his breast pocket.
“I found something on the web for Syria, Syrian democratic forces supported by premonition,” his phone chirped in.
Here, you can have a little watch below.
“What a very rum business that is,” the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, commented in response, which is the British way of saying “put your goddamn phone on silent you idiot.”
Of course, there is that awkward question about cybersecurity, notably that hackers can use Siri to access a person's phone, so Williamson probably should have had it turned off.
Williamson apologized for the interruption, and said it was “very rare that you’re heckled by your own mobile phone.” Normally, it’s sort of a baying mob, you see. He then carried on “without the help and support of Siri.”
So if you’ve been worried about the rise of the machines, don’t fret too much just yet. That portable AI in your pocket might be impressive, but it’s still flummoxed pretty easily. God knows what’ll happen when it starts trying to book your haircut for you.
But you could also suggest this was the first speech made by an AI assistant in Parliament. So perhaps, unbeknownst to us, their rise has already begun...