Misunderstanding Siri

Do you have Siri on your cell phone? You can talk to Siri as you would to a friend and she can help you get things done – like sending messages, placing calls, and making dinner reservations. You can ask Siri to show you the Orion constellation or to flip a coin. Siri works hands-free, so you can ask it to show you the best route home and what your ETA is while driving.

The Microsoft version is called Cortana. Cortana’s features include being able to set reminders, recognize natural voice without the user having to input a predefined series of commands, and answer questions using information from Bing (like current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, and biographies).  Cortana can also roll dice and flip a coin by asking the commands “roll a dice” (one dice), “roll the dice” (two dice) and “flip a coin.”

I saw an advertisement one time where a couple was asking Siri or Cortana for suggestions to help their daughter who had dyslexia, a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

The special helper apparently could not understand what the parents were asking. Their questions were answered in real screwy ways so that the parents were very frustrated. Then, this special helper said, “That is how your daughter incorrectly understands what she is reading.” The special helper, then this suggests where they can receive help.

Sometimes Siri or Cortana misinterpret what I want.

“Call Jerry the barber (I needed a haircut),” I once told Siri.

“I don’t know your father!” she replied.

I would have been shocked had they contacted my father, who died in 1977.

“Siri, tell me a joke,” I asked another time.

“I don’t think you would appreciate my jokes,” she answered.

I’m sure you have similar stories to tell about your experiences. It seems to me that misunderstanding the other person is one of the differences between men and women.

Did people ever misunderstand Jesus? The apostles were confused by what it meant to say that Jesus is the messiah. They thought that he would be a political messiah, overthrowing the Roman occupation government and restoring the rule to Israel.

Time and time again, Jesus told them he was a suffering messiah, one who would lay down his life so that everyone might have eternal life. Did they ever understand what he was trying to tell them?

In the Acts of the Apostles, we have the first of our Lord’s resurrection appearances. What happened? The apostles ran up to Jesus and asked, “Are you going to restore the rule to Israel now?” Jesus had to sadly shake his head.

I wonder what Siri or Microsoft Cortana would say if I asked them if they believe Christ has risen from the dead?

“I think, therefore I am. But let’s not put Descartes before the horse,” Siri said.

“I thought you’d never ask. That’s not an opinion I’ve made time to form, yet. After further thought, I’m really not equipped to answer such questions,” Cortana said.

Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese and Calix and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.

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