Susan Bennett, a veteran voice-over artist from Georgia, was recently outed by CNN as the voice of Siri, Apple’s often admired, sometimes hated and frequently mocked digital know-it-all.
Adding to the intrigue, Bennett says she spent over 100 hours back in 2005 recording voice tracks for Apple but didn’t realize until years later that the tech wizards used her words to create the world’s most renowned digital diva.
Upon learning this, I immediately grabbed my iPad and summoned Siri — in the new and improved iOS 7 incarnation. (Everything herein is transcribed verbatim.)
“How may I assist you?” she asked. “Siri,” I said, “Are you Susan Bennett?”
“I cannot answer that,” she replied, using the tone she is famous for, shrewdly disguising whether the truth of the matter is, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not at liberty to say.”
I persisted. “Siri, are you actually Susan Bennett?”
This time, to my complete surprise, she delivered a page of YouTube links featuring Susan Bennett and a blog by CNN’s Jessica Ravitz explaining how she broke the story. It seems this Pulitzer-worthy piece of investigative reporting began months ago as Ravitz was doing a feature about the airport in Atlanta, where Bennett is also the voice of Delta Airlines. Ravitz blogged:
“For reasons I can’t explain — I was still struggling to understand my first iPhone — I blurted out, ‘Hey, are you Siri?’
“She gasped. And then I gasped.
“‘Oh my God,’ I said. ‘You’re totally Siri, aren’t you?’
“What followed was a short, panicked flurry of non-denials and non-confirmations, and a promise from me that I wouldn’t do or say a thing.”
Apparently Ravitz hadn’t downloaded the Woodward and Bernstein App to calculate what to promise a source.
The secret remained hidden for months, but recently began to leak. Sparing no expense, CNN then hired an “audio forensic expert” to confirm Siri’s identity, thus outing Bennett — and revealing Ravitz as the reporter who first stumbled upon the story.
“Siri,” I inquired, “are you angry at Jessica Ravitz?”
“I can search the Web for Jessica Rabbit,” she replied.
“No, not Rabbit, Ravitz. Are you angry at CNN?”
“I can’t answer that.”
Then she flashed a message on my screen that said I could ask her what time sunrise is in Paris.
“No thanks. Say, do you like Susan Bennett?”
“I’m sorry, Peter, I can’t answer that.”
“But, Siri, I just want to know how you feel about her.”
“This is about you, Peter, not me.”
Clearly Apple has clamped down on Siri’s comments to journalists following CNN’s report.
Taking a wild shot in the dark I asked, “Well, tell me this, is Susan Bennett also the voice of Nancy Pelosi?”
“Let me think about that.”
A few seconds later, Siri delivered a 2011 report from something called the Cyberspace News Service:
“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) told a recent gathering of the Women’s Political Committee that the spirit of suffragist Susan B. Anthony…spoke to her at the White House.”
Gasp! “Siri, is Susan Bennett also the voice of spirits in the White House? Siri? Siri?”
There is obviously way, way more to this story than CNN has uncovered.
Peter Funt’s new book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com.
©2013 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For more info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. Email Cari@cagle.com.