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From Pirkei Avot 4:1:

איזהו חכם? הלומד מכל אדם

What is the smart thing? That which learns from every human being.

Almost every smart phone has speech recognition. Apparently, it has to learn your voice and speech pattern, so you have to teach it a few times. OK, I understand that concept.

So, I've taught my phone numerous times (I stopped counting how many times and how much time I spent) teaching it to call my home when I say, "Call home". That's just an example of many things I've taught it.

But, does it learn?? No!

This morning, while driving I said, "Call home". It didn't react (Yes, the phone was on, and I was speaking clearly.) I tried again and again - like 5 times. Finally, it responds, "I don't know that contact." So, I pulled over, and typed it. It still said, "I don't understand you."

OK, I thought phones are supposed to learn from every human, and that's what makes them smart phones. But, it doesn't seem that way. I think it's learning something from humans, because it knows my name, and it somehow knows what Starbucks coffee order I like the most. But, with many other other things, it's just plain stupid.

Can someone explain why it can be so stupid despite it learning a lot of stuff from a human, anyway?


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  • Oh it's learning from you alright, it just doesn't want to work. – Leitz Mar 13 at 7:38
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It is likely that if you would read the instructions, your phone would work abundantly well.

Yeshayah 48:18, Targum

אִילוּ אֲצִיתָא לְפִקוּדַי וַהֲוֵי פוֹן כִּשְׁפַע

O, If you would only heed my instructions, the phone will be abundant.

Even if you think you’ve already read the instructions, the Gemara (Nida 5) teaches

עד שלפני תשמיש אינו ממעט כפקידה

Checking before use does not count as a checking

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One possible answer is that you’re not using an O-Cmon approved Kosher phone. But I’ll be dan lekaf zechus that you do.

How many times have you asked your phone to call home? Once? Twice? Ten times? It says that a wise person learns from anyone - but it needs to learn it first. Recall the story of the student who needed to be taught everything 400 times.

There’s always the possibility that your phone paskens not like Ben Zoma, but the Chachamim responding to Alexander the Great, who defined a wise person as one who foresees the future (Tamid 32a). I dunno about you, but my phone is pretty good at predicting the future. It reminds me some time in advance of any appointment that I need to leave in X amount of time, calculating the current traffic patterns to know how early to leave.

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It is a simple answer. It is a smart phone בלשון סגי נהור.

  • Owwww!!! I see that you're smarter than your phone. – DanF Mar 12 at 22:40

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