Siri is a personal assistant application for Apple iOS. The application uses natural language processing to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to an expanding set of web services. Siri claims that the software adapts to the user’s individual preferences over time and personalizes results, as well as accomplishing tasks such as making dinner reservations and reserving a cab. Siri was acquired by Apple in 2010, and is now an integrated part of iOS 5. It offers conversational interaction with many applications, including reminders, weather, stocks, messaging, email, calendar, contacts, notes, music, clocks, web browser, Wolfram Alpha, and maps. Currently, Siri only supports English (US, UK, and Australian), German and French, and has limited functionality outside of the US. Siri’s actions and answers rely upon a growing ecosystem of partners, including: OpenTable, CitySearch, Yelp, Yahoo Local, StubHub, RottenTomatoes, New York Times, and Google.

Siri is a spin-off from the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) Artificial Intelligence Center, and is an offshoot of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)-funded CALO project, described as perhaps the largest artificial-intelligence project ever launched. CALO was an attempted to integrate numerous AI technologies into a cognitive assistant; it is an acronym for ‘Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes.’ The name was inspired by the Latin word ‘alonis,’ which means ‘soldier’s servant.’ Siri has many easter eggs. Most are answers to common catchphrases from popular culture. For example, if asked to ‘Open the pod bay door,’ a question David Bowman asks HAL 9000 in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ the program gives the same response as HAL: ‘I’m sorry (username), I can’t do that.’ If the request is repeated, it draws other responses, such as a threat to report the user to the Intelligent Agents Union.

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