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Apple protects your privacy, and Siri sucks because of it

Apple regularly touts itself as the company that doesn’t want to collect your personal data. And that's a liability when it comes to making Siri better.

Technology companies are in a race to build the best voice-powered virtual assistant. But the most valuable company in the world, Apple, is lagging behind its competitors. And that's not an accident.

VICE News spoke to John Burkey, who worked on the Siri Advanced Development team from 2014 to 2016, to try and figure out why Siri is so far behind its competitors.

“There's this old sci-fi myth that there’s these great scientists and they build this amazing machine, and they're really proud of themselves,” Burkey said, describing Siri. “And then after years of success, they all die in the next couple generations. They lose all knowledge of the machines, so they become priests who bang on the machine and say incantations and they hope the machine works. That's kind of what happened to Siri.”

Voice assistants aren’t revenue drivers in any way, but technologists say they are important for the future of tech companies because of the valuable data they collect from users. All types of intimate information can be compiled and studied by these voice assistants, which is ultimately useful in the development in future products.

The thing is, Apple doesn't collect much data about its users in any capacity, which is why Siri is so, well, bad in comparison to her cohort. And after Apple's announcement of Shortcuts, a complicated new tool ostensibly meant to improve it, at the 2018 Worldwide Developer Conference, it's unclear what their strategy is going forward.