Really lovely article in the Herald (originally NYT) about a mother's discovery of her autistic son's burgeoning friendship with Siri. She makes the point that her boy might have grown close to any AI, and investigates some of the potential for software 'sidekicks' to help integrate those growing up on 'the spectrum'.
Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Missouri, I could reply brightly: "Hey! Why don't you ask Siri?"
It's not that Gus doesn't understand Siri's not human. He does - intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realised this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. "So it can visit its friends," he said.