Siri Takes Shape

Every time I read some shocking piece of ignorance about how humans will one day shed the limitations of physiology and move into a glorious post-embodied future, I just laugh. As if human consciousness could ever be severed from the body; as if it ever would want to be…

We anthropomorphise everything, even our technology. A species that creates proxy personalities and even body-images for cell phones isn’t going to be abandoning the flesh any time soon.

Here’s just one tiny example. Siri is the voice recognition software for iPhone 4S. It was created to have a more human tone and personality, so much so that some people have been trying to imagine what “she” would look like. It’s a kind of reverse transhumanism, in which we take a “pure” technology already freed from the “limitations” of the human body, and inject it into the the form of human physiology.

When Shapeways held a contest for people to imagine what Siri would look like, the vast majority of the forms were anthropomorphic. The only finalist without any recognizably human elements was a fairly obvious parody of HAL 9000.

Siri is nothing but a voice. The Shapeways project reveals a deep need for people to give form to that voice: human form.

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About Thomas L. McDonald

Thomas L. McDonald writes about technology, theology, history, games, and shiny things. Details of his rather uneventful life as a professional writer and magazine editor can be found in the About tab.


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