Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa have swiftly thrust our lives into the future, allowing for various conveniences that we could never have imagined. Want to dim the lights, raise the temperature, or play some music? Just announce it and voila! Some robot in your phone or nearby speaker makes it happen.
But with every positive there is bound to be a negative. Some people have reported that their Amazon Echo devices sent full conversations to contacts on their phone, and some toddlers have accidentally requested that porn be played instead of a favorite kids song. Most recently, however, a virtual assistant managed to interrupt a Parliament speech in Britain.
According to HuffPost, Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, “interrupted a speech in the House of Commons by Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.” Williamson was talking about Syria, which triggered the phone in his pocket to begin “listening.” When Siri thought that she should be activated, she announced, “I found something on the web for Syria.”
Williamson commented on the moment: “It is very rare that you’re heckled by your own mobile phone.”
After the meeting, the Defense Secretary tweeted about the incident:
— Gavin Williamson (@GavinWilliamson) July 3, 2018
But some people had some valid concerns:
— Philip Ingram MBE (@PhilipIngMBE) July 3, 2018
Worrying that the Minister responsible for the country's defence has such a blasé attitude to cyber security.
— Stu Smith (@asmo23) July 3, 2018
You do understand that as Defence Secretary having Siri on Always Listen is a catastrophically bad idea from a national security point of view, right?
— Dan (@PoliticalDataUK) July 3, 2018
Fortunately, according to HuffPost, the BBC “later reported that a source close to Williamson dismissed the risk, saying he did not carry the phone into “confidential and sensitive meetings.”
Well, that’s a relief…