Siri and the little things that kill you

I’m on vacation this week, and so I’m re-running some posts from the archive. A version of this one ran in February 2010, long before everyone was talking about Siri, thank you very much — Laura

One of the reasons many of us think we do more housework than we actually do is the mental overhead caused by remembering that stuff has to be done, and then figuring out how to do it.  This can be everything from finding a plumber to a dentist who takes your insurance to a store that sells a certain kind of lightbulb. Decades ago, people fantasized that robots would be taking care of all these things for us by now. Yet it hasn’t happened (nor have the flying cars, which is a real disappointment!)

But at least some entrepreneurs are trying to use artificial intelligence technology to make life easier. I’ve been enjoying reading about Siri, the new iPhone app, which can help with at least some of these tasks. According to this review in USA Today, Siri will remind you to wear your rain coat in the morning if the weather looks iffy, and will bring you to Stub Hub if you ask for tickets for tonight’s game.

Of course, it’s not perfect yet. While Siri may be able to learn your preferences, it doesn’t yet take on all the mental overhead that the “good wife” has always done. For instance, it probably won’t look at your schedule, note that you have a 7:30 meeting blocked but your nanny normally comes at 8, and then call your nanny to see if she can come earlier. It cannot actually take your shirts to the cleaners for you (though it might find a business that does pick-up). It will not make Valentines for your pre-schooler’s entire class. Though maybe that’s really doing everyone a favor, as that ratchets down the pressure for everyone else to do that too!

What little things would you like off your plate?

Photo courtesy flickr user LJR.MIKE

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