Culture Clips: Siri, Who’s the Smartest Digital Assistant?


These days, digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s, erm, Assistant can deliver answers, directions, pizza and tons of other stuff just by asking. So USA Today set out to find out which of these virtual answer bots was the most accurate.

The short answer probably shouldn’t come as a surprise: “We spent the weekend asking the same 150 questions to the Google Assistant on Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa via the Echo speaker and Apple’s Siri on the iPhone. Google answered correctly 80% of the time, compared to 78% for Amazon and 55% correct for Siri,” writes USA Today’s Jefferson Graham. The longer answer? Well it’s longer because the methodology used skewed against some of Siri’s answers: “When Siri responded with a ‘Here’s what I found on the Web,’ and a link to look it up ourselves, that also counted as a non-answer.” I mean, heaven forbid we should have to search for something ourselves, right?

Speaking of questions, for the last several years, Facebook has faced allegations that it skews news feeds against conservative posts. Now the social media giant is pledging to work with some conservative groups to ensure that doesn’t happen. Klon Kitchen, senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation, said of the news, “I think it’s wholly right that conservatives want to be treated fairly and enjoy the benefits of the service like anyone else. If Facebook is doing a reasonable job of that now, it’s up to Facebook to make that case. If there are systemic problems, they should deal with that, not only to do well as a company, but also for the sake of consumers to provide the best product possible.”

Meanwhile, fans of Tim Allen’s conservative-leaning sitcom Last Man Standing may yet see it return to the airwaves following its controversial cancellation by ABC last year. But if that happens, it won’t be on the show’s former network, but rather on Fox.

Another beloved TV comedian, Carol Burnett, doesn’t think much of today’s increasingly crass-‘n’-crude comedic environment. In an interview with The New York Times, the 85-year-old entertainer said, “I’m not a prude, but gratuitous blue material to me is not only not classy, it’s a cheap laugh. If you look at All in the Family, Mary, Dick Van Dyke, Bob Newhart, that was classy writing. They didn’t have to get blue to shock.”

Over on Instagram, Justin Bieber is using his massive social media platform to remind his millions of followers (albeit without punctuation) that what they see there actually isn’t the key to happiness: “HEY WORLD THAT GLAMOROUS LIFESTYLE YOU SEE PORTRAYED BY FAMOUS PEOPLE DON’T BE FOOLD THINKING THEIR LIFE IS BETTER THAN YOURS I CAN PROMISE YOU IT’S NOT!”

Elsewhere in the world of celebrity missives this week, Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt reflected bluntly on his divorce from actress Anna Faris after eight years of marriage, telling Entertainment Weekly, “Divorce sucks.”

Couples that want to stay married, meanwhile, might do well to ease off their Netflix habit, which peaks right about the time they go to bed. British researchers have found that Netflix usage maxes out between 10:00 and 11:00 pm, with many couples watching shows in bed. University of Cambridge researcher David Spiegelhalter warns that increased TV watching may correlate with less interest in physical intimacy, thus harming their relationships.

Another British study, this one from the Next Steps Project at University College London finds that Millennials in that country are waiting longer to have sex for the first time, with 1 in 8 reporting that they’re still virgins at the age of 26. British psychotherapist Susanna Abse believes that’s a paradoxical consequence of a culture saturated in sensuality. “Millennials have been brought up in a culture of hypersexuality, which has bred a fear of intimacy.” This generation, she goes on to say, fears that they may not be able to measure up to the standards of beauty and virility portrayed in entertainment.

Cellphones aren’t doing much for our health either, apparently. New research indicates yet another possible link between their usage and brain cancer. And experts believe that the surging numbers of pedestrians being killed may well be connected to cellphone distraction (among walkers and drivers alike) as well.

Another cause of automobile accidents? Driving under the influence of marijuana. The New York Times reports on a meta-analysis of 21 studies in 13 countries regarding the effects of driving while using pot: a 20% to 30% higher likelihood of having an accident. That’s just one of the many health risks outlined in Aaron E. Carroll’s article, “It’s Time for a New Discussion of Marijuana’s Risks.” Others include: cancer, heart disease, reduced lung function, pregnancy effects, memory and concentration problems and mental health concerns.

Hyperinflation has devastated the South American economy of Venezuela in recent months, so much so that USA Today reports, “The virtual gold in the [online video] game World of Warcraft is now worth around seven times more than Venezuela’s currency, the bolivar.”

Finally this week, what would Culture Clips be without a superhero story, right? No, we’re not going to spend too much time talking about how Avengers: Infinity War is crushing the cinematic competition. (Though it is doing that, with still more records set to fall in China.) This week’s installment of superhero stuff comes courtesy of our very own Paul Asay, who reflects on the one theme that connects every Marvel movie: the critical importance of fathers.

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Chuck Anziulewicz More than 1 year ago
Technology is making people very lazy.