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Stumped Siri? Soon She Could Crowdsource Tough Queries

Apple has filed a patent that explores a crowdsourcing solution for when Siri can’t answer your questions.

Stumped Siri? Soon She Could Crowdsource Tough Queries
[Image: Flickr user Robert S. Donovan]

Siri is not known for her people skills.

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For years, iPhone owners have been documenting funny or frustrating examples of times when the Apple personal assistant failed to come up with a suitable answer to a question. But what if, when Siri failed, she could call upon the crowd to find the right answer?

That’s the premise of a patent Apple filed with the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office, as spotted by AppleInsider. The patent, titled “Crowd sourcing information to fulfill user requests,” documents a system through which Siri, upon failing to deliver a satisfactory answer to a user’s query, could crowdsource the desired response to “address questions previously unanswerable in real time.” According to the patent, Siri would crowdsource information from various sources, including general websites, Q&A forums, and, most interestingly, real people. Using human sources could give Siri access to real-world experts who can easily understand and answer questions Siri can’t.

Interestingly enough, another company has already explored the concept of a crowdsourced Siri: Sivi, a now-defunct paid service we wrote about last year that employed human concierges who scoured the Internet to answer users’ incoming questions.

About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.

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