We all know that most civilian technology has military roots: GPS, computers, the Internet.So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when I say that the iPhone’s much touted Siri is not really a product of hyper-hip folks in Apple’s shiny campus, it’s actually a military borne application.
From a recent post by defence analyst David Brown:
The name “Siri” gives away the game, really. She was built by SRI International. How close are SRI (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and defence Department researchers? Of the first 10 organisations to register something called a dot-com, SRI.com came in at number 8. Just under a decade ago, the defence Advance Research Projects Agency invested in an initiative called Perceptive Assistant that Learns, or PAL. The idea wasn’t far off from what Siri would become, and there were interesting potential defence applications.
And that’s not even the kicker, Brown sends it home right here:
SRI took PAL and DARPA dollars and created a Cognitive Agent that Learns and Organizes, or CALO. The abbreviation is two-fold; it’s also short for calonis, which is Latin for “soldier’s servant.”
So Siri came into being initially as a ‘soldier’s servant,’ presumably for battlefield applications, like hands free commands of drones or other equipment. In fact, Brown says “you’d be hard pressed to name anything in your iPhone 5 that didn’t have roots in defence research.”
The rest of the post is interesting too. He mentions other tech such as smart helmets and how the NFL is going to help Marines and Soldiers on the battlefield with Traumatic Brain Injury.
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