Siri Has A Whole Backstory You Can Unlock By Asking The Right Questions


We all know that Siri has some fun Easter eggs, but according to some Apple’s virtual assistant also has an entire backstory — unlockable by asking just the right questions.

“We developed a backstory for Siri to make sure everything that it said was consistent, and as part of that, we had to answer questions like, is Siri a man or a woman?” says Adam Cheyer, one of the chief engineers for the project. “Is it human, a machine, an alien? Is it an Apple employee? What is its relationship with respect to Apple?”

The revelation is one from Yukari Iwatani Kane’s new book Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs, for which she interviewed members of the team who developed the Siri technology. While the idea of a Siri backstory has been brought up before, the idea that that this can gradually be eked out by asking the correct series of questions is a new insight.

Siri’s sense of humor reportedly comes from Harry Saddler, Apple’s Manager of the Siri Conversational Interaction Design Group, and a former NASA UI designer.

Although Siri has been around for a few years now (and the technology has certainly had its ups as well as downs), it would be fascinating to hear the officially approved Apple backstory for the character who began life as a five-year DARPA-backed project to build an intelligent virtual assistant — prior to being acquired by Apple.

Perhaps a job for former Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson? Because as can be seen from the above image, for now Siri is pleading the fifth.

Any insights into Siri’s mysterious backstory based on your own questions? Post them below.

  • stenro

    Actually, Siri was programmed with false information. She says she was created by Apple in California. That is not true- she was developed and released as a sand-alone iPhone app by a start-up company before Apple bought it.

    • Tom Lavoie

      Ooo the plot thickens

    • Stephen K

      Siri says it was “designed” by Apple in California. Slightly different than saying it was created by Apple. Plus, my Siri speaks in a male Australian accent.

  • Timothy Sullivan

    By asking Siri the question Iris what is your backstory? I got quite a story. Try it.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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