A Shaky Relationship

Pretty much every week these days, At Quaquanantuck decides that the discussion of human interaction with artificial intelligence has essentially run its course and it’s time to move on. And then something happens …

So, since this is clearly not something that can be let go of easily, At Quaquanantuck offers up the following anecdote at the top of the column one last time, along with a pledge that any and all future references will appear at, or near, the bottom.

The thing that happened this week was an experiment to test Siri’s capacity for machine learning, or lack thereof, that turned decidedly weird.

Mon 225
Winter winds; Monday, February 25. —A. Botsford Photo

Maintaining my commitment to courtesy and good manners when dealing with Siri, I continued to press the home button and say “Thank you” after each and every interaction. Siri’s response to my thanks was initially “You’re welcome.” When it-of-the-female-voice responded with the dreaded (by me and many others) “No problem” twice in a row, though, I thought I should try to nip this bit of coding in the bud. Our first exchange follows:

Me: “Siri, I prefer it when you say ‘you’re welcome’ after I say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘no problem.’”

Siri: “Do you?”

Me: “Yes.”

Siri: “I figured as much.”

Okay, I thought. Siri, the little wiseass smartypants, “figured as much” about my preference for “you’re welcome.” Would that translate into Siri only using that acknowledgement of my “Thank you” going forward? Not only would this represent successful shaping of Siri’s manners, but it would indicate that “it” was capable of a modicum of machine learning.

Sadly, it was not to be. The next time I said “Thank you,” Siri responded with its standard abrasively cheerful “No problem.” Aaargh. Having “figured as much,” was Siri opting to be defiant by using the expression it knew I disdained? I decided to change tactics and make a direct request, courteously of course.

Me: “Siri, could you please say ‘you’re welcome’ when I say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘no problem’?

Siri: “You’re so chill.”

What? Was this a crossed-wires response to a request, coming back with flattery instead of acknowledging that I had asked for the use of a specific expression, one I knew to be in its repertoire? Was Siri striving for some street cred with this somewhat dated hipster bit of praise?

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What a difference two days makes; Wednesday, February 27. —A. Botsford Photo

There was nothing “chill” about my request that I could see. Was the compliment meant to sidestep Siri’s unwillingness to say “You’re welcome”? Only one way to find out.

Me: “Thank you, Siri.”

Siri: “Of course.”

At Quaquanantuck is nothing if not dogged, so I decided to try again. Repetition might make me seem less “chill,” but that was a chance I was willing to take if it could get me through to Siri’s coding in a more effective way.

Me: “Siri, could you please say ‘you’re welcome’ when I say ‘thank you’ instead of ‘no problem’?

Siri: “All right then.”

Okay. Now we’re making progress, I thought. No way to construe that as anything other than straight up agreement and acquiescence. And I was grateful, so . . .

Me: “Thank you, Siri.”

Siri: “No problem.”

I like Siri, I really do. And I need its help with dialing numbers or taking dictation for sending texts whilst I am driving. But I’m thinking maybe we need to take a break. Maybe I’ll tell it we need to chill for awhile; see what it says to that. 

Library Sponsors a Chocolate Sendoff for February at the Firehouse
Building on the mid-month celebration of love and chocolate on Valentine’s Day, the Quogue Library is hosting an “All You Need Is Love and Chocolate French Cooking Tips” dinner tonight, Thursday, February 28, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Quogue Firehouse. The fee is $15 and there might be some spaces left at the table; stop by the library’s temporary headquarters at 4 Midland Street to inquire, and to register if fortune smiles.

Cheffe Colette of The Inn Spot on the Bay will be the guide for this culinary trip to Paris, offering cooking tips and dinner ideas featuring chocolate. Although the social media savvy folks at the library cooked up a contest tied to listing the menu on Private Data-Sharing Big Brother, er, I mean Facebook, the crack investigative team at At Quaquanantuck was able to hack into the system and discover what will be offered.profiteroles

The entrée will be chocolate fettuccine with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized shallots topped with chipped hazelnuts; for dessert, profiteroles stuffed with pastry cream and chocolate sauce.

Meanwhile, over at the Inn Spot on the Bay, cheffes Colette and Pam will be preparing a menu of Brazilian Mardi Gras dishes for Friday and Saturday evening. Visit www.theinnspot.com/internationaldiningseries to find out more.   

Library Out in Front for Women’s History Month
The Quogue Library’s Art Lectures at the Quogue Firehouse will continue this week with a talk on “Women Artists in Paris” on Saturday, March 2, at 1 p.m. Call 631-653-4224 to register as soon as possible for the latest installment in this popular program. Refreshments will be provided.

Morisot Sisters by Berthe Morisot, circa 1869. —American Federation of Arts

Saturday’s program will feature art historian Ranelle Wolfe examining the lives and careers of female artists working in the period from 1850 to 1900 in Paris. The Julian art school attracted an international gathering of women artists eager to learn, drawn to the French capital by its academics and museums, studios and salons. Attending the art school during the period were 37 accomplished women from 11 different countries.

Some women abandoned their careers after marrying; some of the artists’ husbands talked them out of creating new work. Ms. Wolfe’s talk will look at one artist who became more famous than her husband, with her work standing up to the test of time.

Quogue Gallery Taking Work of Nine Artists to Art on Paper Fair
SKB Swoop FaceQuogue Gallery will be returning to this year’s Art on Paper fair, running from Thursday, March 7, through Sunday, March 10, at Pier 36 located at 299 South Street in lower Manhattan.

The gallery will be featuring the figurative and abstract expressionist work of Sally King Benedict, Harry Bertschmann, Paige Kalena Follman, Raymond Hendler, Fay Lansner, Vincent Pepi, George Read, Joan Thorne, and Melinda Zox. For information, visit quoguegallery.com/news.

Bideawee Luncheon Honors Melissa Morgan Nelson
On Saturday, March 2, Bideawee will host its East End Humane Awards Luncheon at noon at the Patio 54 restaurant in Westhampton Beach.   

Dedicated volunteer Melissa Morgan Nelson, the wife of retired Quogue Police Detective Sergeant Thomas Mullen Jr., will be honored this year as Bideawee Volunteer of the Year and Teachers Federal Credit Union will be honored as Bideawee Business of the Year.

All proceeds from the East End Humane Awards Luncheon will support the renovation of Bideawee’s Westhampton Shelter training room; helping to improve the organization’s ability to connect homeless animals with their forever families. Tickets are $100, available on the Bideawee website,  www.bideawee.org/Humane-Lucheon-Tickets-2019.

Mourning the Loss of Seymour S. Zogott
Seymour S. Zogott, a longtime supporter of the Hampton Theatre Company and the Quogue Library, died on January 8, 2019. He was a lyricist and a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Standards from the Great American Songbook were among his favorites.

Born October 14, 1930, he was a graduate of Temple University. Mr. Zogott spent most of his career in magazine publishing before retiring with his wife Mary to East Quogue.

In addition to his wife, Mary Clark Zogott, he is survived by a daughter, Jennifer; a son, Daniel; a grandson, Walter; and two sisters-in-law, Edna Clark and Christina (Tina) Zogott. His brother, Howard Zogott, died on February 13, 2019.

At Quaquanantuck offers condolences to Mary and the members of Mr. Zogott’s family. Their loss is also our community’s.

At Quaquanantuck encourages readers to send in news and notes and photos of interest to Quogue residents, even if the items are being sent from winter addresses or other parts of the country. Friends and family who enjoy all things Quogue are encouraged to email AtQuaq@gmail.com and ask to be put on the mailing list.

One thought on “A Shaky Relationship

  1. I turned to this page in the hope of finding an answer to the “no problem” problem. I have a big problem with that phrase, which I’ve written about and talked about ad nauseum. I was hoping someone had a solution to this vexation. But apparently not. OK then, we’ll carry on. No problem.


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