Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Tom Simonite

A View from Tom Simonite

Apple Looks to Improve Siri’s Script

“Character-driven dialogue” will help the virtual assistant evolve, says an Apple job ad.

  • January 15, 2013

Apple’s virtual assistant Siri may have its roots in a Pentagon-funded artificial intelligence research project, but algorithms aren’t everything and the Cupertino company is now turning to writers to make Siri smarter. A job ad posted by Apple on LinkedIn appeals for:

“[S]omeone who combines a love for language, wordplay, and conversation with demonstrated experience in bringing creative content to life within an intense technical environment.”

They’ll need “experience in writing character-driven dialog”, a good vocabulary, and ideally knowledge of more than one language. The end result, says the ad, will “evolve and enrich Siri…known for ‘her’ wit, cultural knowledge, and zeal to explain things in engaging, funny, and practical ways.”

Many of the changes Apple made to Siri when it bought the technology from the startup of the same name were in a similar vein. As my colleague Will Knight wrote in an in depth look at how Siri is designed: “Siri may not be the smartest AI in the world but it’s the most socially adept.” Giving the system a style that suggests tact, charm, and even wit makes its limitations and errors easier to bear (see “Social Intelligence”).

That approach isn’t unique to Apple. In recent years winners of the Loebner Prize, in which chatbots try to convince judges they are human, have often been those that use relatively simple tactics focused on humor and mimicry rather than deep learning.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today
More from Connectivity

What it means to be constantly connected with each other and vast sources of information.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.