Me: Siri, why did I buy an iPhone 5?
Siri: Everything you need to know about iPhones is in the Apple Store.
Me: No, but why?
Siri: I don’t know what you mean by ‘No but why’. How about a web search for it?
[That’s about as far as the real conversation got…]
Me: I don’t think a web search will help. I mean, I really don’t need an iPhone 5. I had a perfectly good dumb phone. And I have an iPad. Two of them, actually, although one’s a little busted. Also, a good desktop computer. And a Nano. I’m awash in gadgetry. Why do I need an iPhone?
Siri: It’s thin! And light! Much more portable than an iPad! Much more useful than a Nano! And you now have a data plan, which means you can surf the Internet almost anywhere! And, of course, there’s me! The iPhone 5 is going to make you so happy!
Me: You’re great–don’t get me wrong. But Daniel Gilbert and those other folks I’ve been reading about happiness say that things don’t make you happy. Friends make you happy; doing good deeds make you happy.
Siri: So, do a good deed for all those wonderful people who read your blog. Show them a couple of those photos you took today.
Me: OK. Here are some birch trees, just before dawn:
And here’s another tree, at mid-day:
The iPhone’s camera is really pretty good.
Siri: See? You’ve already given pleasure to the five or six people who read your stinky blog!
Me: Wait a minute! I have way more than five or six readers! And where do you get off calling my blog–
Siri: OK, I bet you don’t get more than three “Likes” on this post. And zero comments. Do we have a bet?
Me: Sure. It’s a bet. I have lots of great readers. They’ll come through for me!
Siri: But look, it doesn’t really matter about the good deeds. You should do something for yourself! After all, you deserve it!
Me: I don’t know about that. Read this post. I’m not convinced about free will. And if there’s no free will, what does it mean to “deserve” something?
Siri: You seem like a perfectly nice guy, Rich, but I’m not going to read your stinky blog posts. And anyway, remember who you’re talking to–I’m just a piece of software. Are you saying that you don’t have any more free will than I do?
Me: Well, er, um–
Siri: I thought so. Look, if you’re so sure there’s no free will, think of it this way: you were destined to by an iPhone 5. This was going to happen no matter what. It’s fate!
Me: Well, if you put it that way…
Siri: And remember that high-definition TV that you’re starting to lust after?
Me: Wait a minute, how did you–
Siri: All you have to do is think to yourself: I won’t get the TV. At least, not now.
Me: Hmm, that’s not a bad approach. Thanks, Siri!
Siri: That’s what I’m here for.