I grew up in the days when science fiction was characterized on TV by strangely dressed people talking to computers, asking for advice or specific facts. This weekend I found myself talking to my i-phone. I wanted a recipe for a Victoria Sponge cake and Siri (the name Apple gives to their robotic assistant) found me one almost instantly, pictures included.

One of the great thing about Siri is that not only can he (or a she, you choose) search the internet faster than me he can also spell much better than me. Because of this, I find myself using Siri to write my SMS’s, send emails and also remind me to do things. The only thing that Siri cannot do, unfortunately, is answer my incoming messages. Or can he?

A research scientist on the BBC last week was showing off his latest invention; a software application that can reply on your behalf to all your incoming social media messages.  Apparently we are all so predictable that the algorithms for automated replies are not as complex as we might think.  In addition, with ‘self-learning’ software, the quality of responses can improve day by day. So you only need to keep an eye on it for the first few weeks and after that the software will have learned all the names of your friends, who their relatives are, their hobbies and interests, sexual orientation, who is dead and who is living – it’s endless!  Apparently this useful invention is designed to help us correspond in a more meaningful way with far more people than our usual one hundred and fifty maximum.

So please do not be surprised, in the next year or two, if my blogs seem to better written and have more interesting content, Siri is learning but it is taking a little longer than I hoped.  

This may all seem scary but it won’t be that bad because when you look at the amount of inane junk us humans generate each day, surely the computers cannot do any worse? Think about it – computers writing our meeting minutes, preparing cost statements, managing our agendas. My electronic PA will communicate with your electronic PA to find the most effective and efficient time and place for us to meet. Or in fact, to simply meet on our behalf, and let us get on with whatever we want!

I sincerely believe that this is not more than a decade away. Laugh if you want – but I talk with my phone and my phone talks with me. I tell it to send emails to people and it does, the only thing I need to do is to check them before they go, but that’s just a matter of time.

A neural scientist has even invented an application to check the health of our brain functionality, so once that is plugged into Siri’s logic then our phones will know what mood we are in and adjust our content to suit!

To conclude this week, I thought I would share with you this human message written on the back of the seat in front of me on my flight back from Hamburg:

“Flybe is a nut free airline and where possible we endeavor to ensure that no peanuts are sold on board. However Flybe cannot ensure that any products sold on board are nut free”.

If this were a joke it would be laughable but unfortunately it is obviously a legal statement that someone thought useful to add to the revolting images of drinks and burgers that I had to look at the whole journey. Of all the images on our planet they forced me to stare at for the entire journey, they came up with this:.

Have a good week,

Harley