Monday, October 22, 2018

The Paradise Prequel

In "The Paradise Syndrome," one of the better-regarded episodes of the third season of Star Trek, the plot hinges upon what at the time must have seemed a highly science-fictional premise: Captain Kirk accidentally utters the right combination of sounds to open the trap door of an ancient alien asteroid deflector.

If it seems unlikely that uttering the words "Kirk to Enterprise" would cause a door to open, consider this. Earlier today, I opened the car door, tossed my wallet and iPhone onto the passenger seat, started the engine, and pulled the door shut. 

"Here's what I found for Kong," Siri said, dutifully serving up links to the IMDB and Wikipedia pages for a number of movies featuring King Kong. 

This event raises a number of concerns. First, voice activation software clearly remains in its infancy. Second, I thought Siri wasn't supposed to activate unless you said "Hey, Siri." I suppose the iPhone has to be listening all the time to catch that phrase (which presents its own, even more troubling conundrums), but does the sound of entering a car and turning on the engine sound anything like "Hey, Siri?" 

At least I didn't wind up with a concussion and an accidental bride, like Captain Kirk. 


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