A rather embarrassing, but also fairly hilarious incident took place in UK parliament earlier this week, involving Apple’s voice assistant for its devices, Siri. During a speech by UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson in a Parliament session, his own Apple iPhone picked up the word ‘Syria’, and mistook it for the keyword to summon Siri. He was then ‘heckled’ by his own phone mid-speech.
While speaking about terrorism operations in Syria, Siri pipes up with a response in the middle of the speech by the Defense Secretary. “I found something on the web for Syria, Syrian democratic forces supported by premonition”, says Siri in response to whatever it was that triggered it. The Secretary is a bit flustered, and is further embarrassed as the Speaker of the House says “What a very rum business that is.” That’s fancy British speak for “How rude” or “What on Earth is the matter with you?”, in case you were wondering.
Fortunately, everyone involved saw the humor in the matter, with the Defense Secretary laughing it off as being heckled by his own mobile phone. He quickly puts the phone on silent, into his pocket, and goes on with his speech. The whole affair lasted a few seconds, but fortunately, BBC News was on hand to capture it.
This particular incident is the latest in a long list of interruptions by Siri, which has shown a knack for popping up with unwelcome responses at the oddest possible times. Siri was launched as an app on iOS in February 2010, but rose to fame after it was acquired by Apple integrated into the Apple iPhone 4S back in 2011, and touted as one of the phone’s big new features. The first of its kind, today Siri isn’t the only AI-based voice assistant around, with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa also gaining prominence.