I Met A Homemade Virtual Assistant Smarter Than Siri

11 months ago
74 in robots

Homemade 15 year-old virtual assistant named Iris is smarter than Siri. It was made by the owner of a makerspace in Kansas City.

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(the photo is not of Iris. I took this photo of my daughter and a famous robot that hangs on one corner of downtown Kansas City, Missouri)

The founder of a makerspace in Kansas City, Dave Dalton, created an intelligent virtual assistant called Iris, 15 years ago, way before Siri was released (2011). He told me he installed Iris in his son’s bedroom, which fully resembles the inside of a spaceship. He showed me photos from his Facebook folder of his son’s bedroom and it’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a looooong time:

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Dave jokingly or not so jokingly claimed that Apple had co-opted his program and spelled it backwards:


We did a test while I was there and asked both Siri and Iris the question,
“What is going on?”
Siri’s answer was “That’s an interesting question”
while Iris answered at length, “Well, that is fascinating and I think the robot revolution is about to begin, don’t you?”

Dave asked Iris the same question a minute later and got a different answer. Iris said, “I am not sure but I think whatever is going on now has happened several hundred times before.”
Here's the hilarious video of Iris in action talking with Dave and me:

I was taken aback by the amazing intelligence of Iris. She was far superior to Siri in every way possible. Iris’ voice can be heard booming out of the Snack Kitchen. Dave has Iris do all the gruntwork like announcing to the members,

“It’s time to clean up your workspaces now.”

I wandered into the room where I witnessed an object being printed by a 3-D printer (aren’t I cool now that I’ve seen a 3-D printer in action?).
I was very impressed.
I asked Dave a bunch of questions about how I could build my solar-powered superhero doll. He seemed a bit annoyed with me but after he could sense I was serious, he answered my questions. Here’s the 3-D printer and a bunch of 3-D printed objects that I got to touch and feel:

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I spent a large amount of time just looking at all the cool, weird stuff on the walls and in the various rooms.

I believe in Tentacles too, so when I saw a cloth poster of it, I was in awe.
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I like the notion of donating to obsolete robots, as well.
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The absolute insanity of everything I saw today gives me a new sense of hope for Kansas City. I’m in. My solar hobby kits arrive soon, then I’ll be working on illustrating my solar doll. I’ll need help, obviously, but, I can visualize the doll and its solar house and pets quite clearly in my mind. So now I’ll just need to translate the depictions into reality.

I think the best thing about Hammerspace is the affordable membership fees. Once you are a member ($50 per month / individual, $75 per month / family, with all kids free), you can use the 3-d printer for your own projects. I asked how much an object costs to print and Dave told me the one printing at that very minute cost $16.03.

This was my favorite thing at Hammerspace:
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