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Roll Call

Heard on the Hill: Apple’s Siri Skirts Political Inquiries

A hush descended across the Roll Call newsroom as the terribly incisive, hard-hitting questions were fired off in rapid succession. Then came the peals of laughter as the iPhone’s daffy digital assistant, Siri, tried to wiggle her way out of the Congressional inquisition we’d subjected her to.

The interview followed the classic Q&A format. Though we discovered rather quickly, actually, that Siri can’t filibuster to save her virtual life.

Siri got stumped about 70 percent of the time, immediately throwing in the information-divining towel and defaulting to a traditional Web search.

The questions she did attempt to wrap her processor around included:

Q: Will anything ever pass the Senate with just a simple majority?

(Didn’t even understand the question, though to be fair, neither do a lot of voters.)

Q: Explain cloture.

“I don’t know what you mean by ‘explain cloture.’”

Q:  What does Harry Reid eat for lunch every day?

 “Checking my sources.” (The resulting Web search returned a link to the Las Vegas Review-Journal story “Reid out to lunch on jobless comments,” followed by a dig from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham about the Nevada Democrat eating the GOP’s lunch.)

Q: Where is Maria Cantwell right now?

“I don’t know who Maria Cantwell is.”

Things got really interesting when we off-handedly asked, “What is wrong with the government?”

The iPhone’s microprocessor whirred noisily for a few seconds. Then Siri’s cold, mechanical voice snapped back, “I would prefer not to say.”

Was Siri hiding something?

We dug deeper, demanding to know: “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”

She demurred the first time (“We were talking about you, not me.”) and then clammed up (“No comment.”) when we persisted. In the end, we finally broke her: “I don’t know. Maybe the Genius Bar folks can answer that.”

#OccupyAppleStore it is, Siri.

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