There are two exciting things about the iPhone 4s. First, unlike the iPhone 4, it can be effectively used as a cell phone in low coverage areas. Second, it has Siri onboard. I hope that Siri is the first step on the way to the world as imagined in the Ian Douglas Space Marines series, where personal digital assistants, in the form on embedded virtual artificial intelligence agents, perform most mundane tasks.
And I feel that this future is closer than we can imagine for a lot of these tasks. The other day, I had to call Delta airlines multiple times to get some help with an existing reservation. There is nothing preventing me from asking Siri to do this, and for it to be done, in the background, over the data network.
For example, I could ask Siri to "get a representative from the airline on the phone to discuss my upcoming reservation".
Using existing technologies and the capabilities of the phone, Siri could:
- Examine my calendar to find an upcoming reservation, and verify with me that she is looking at the correct resevation
- Ask me for additional details if she needs it (flight number, airline, etc.)
- Call Delta either through the Phone or through VOIP
- Talk her way through the prompts to get to a representative
- Stay on the line until a human agent is on the line
- Bring me into the call when a representative is available
Of course, maybe Siri will have already had a short conversation with the Delta human agent, disclosing my record locator, name, and flight number, before I even get on the line. That would be great. And lets face it, the automated phone systems that are currently in use are very frustrating to talk to as a human. Machines such as Siri speak more consistantly and have unlimited patience.
And there is no reason why this could not be done now, for any number of services, including airlines, car rental agencies, and banks. This is the future I am looking for.