Heading to Grandma’s house

My six-year-old has some Siri-ous concerns.

Race Cars by Ryan, 6.

Race Cars by Ryan, 6.

We were driving down I-20 towards Atlanta heading to the Atlanta Pen Show to see Myke and Brad at the live recording of The Pen Addict. The whole crew was in the car because we were dropping the kiddos off at Grandma’s house on the way.

It had been a long week so just outside of Columbia, everyone was asleep… except Ryan. Our six-year-old was wide awake and ready to talk. He eventually started telling me about all the things he wanted to invent someday. Rockets and spaceships, mostly. But then, he brought up cars that can drive themselves…

Ryan: I’m going to invent a car that can drive itself.

Me: That’s cool, bud.

Ryan: And you’ll control it with a video game controller.

Me: That’s not exactly a self-driving car. Engineers and scientists are already working on making a car that will drive itself.

Ryan: But how will it know where to go?

Me: You’ll hop in and say “Take me to Grandma’s house” and you’ll be on the way. There won’t even be a steering wheel.


(Keep in mind that 5 minutes ago, we were talking about building invisible rockets that could fly to the sun…)

Me: Why not? People are already working on it.

Ryan: Dad! Have you ever tried to ask Siri anything? That’s never going to work.

I don’t use Siri much. I use it for voice dialing when I’m driving. I’ve switched my AirPod controls so they don’t use the Siri functionality. I’d rather just tap to pause or play.

Ryan, though, loves talking to voice interfaces. He loves asking Siri questions. He uses the Siri remote on our Apple TV. We have an Echo Dot at home that he loves to ask Alexa about the weather, add things to our shopping list and ask it to play music and tell jokes. Ryan isn’t good at structuring his sentences in the perfect way to get the best response — he’s six — so even with the Alexa, it’s hit or miss.

We all know that voice assistants have to get better before they become the primary interface for our cars and devices, but I think it’s telling that a six-year-old who believes he could grow up and invent invisible rockets that will take us to the outer reaches of the solar system has zero confidence that Siri could ever get him to his Grandma’s house.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. He's currently in the middle of a project to design a new shirt a week for an entire year. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.