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Siri turns 2! Meet the woman Apple users love to hate

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Don’t forget to wish her a happy birthday.

She’s cursed at, laughed at, and unthinkingly obeyed millions of times a day by otherwise normal men and women who let the voice of a perfect stranger decide the course of their lives — even when they hate it.

siribennettNot bad at all for a 2-year-old.

On Oct. 4, 2011, Apple released the iPhone 4S, unleashed the voice of Siri onto an until-then unsuspecting global audience — and changed the way humans relate to their machines.

CNN.com marked Friday’s anniversary by revealing the woman behind the voice of Siri, aka Susan Bennett, a suburban Atlanta resident and veteran of the voiceover business.

“I began my career as a machine many years ago,” Bennett told CNN’s Jessica Ravitz in a story headlined “I’m the original voice of Siri.” “I’m sure that you hear my voice at some point every day.”

A lot of the players in the anonymous world of the voiceover business can make the same claim. (Who is that woman who tells you “your call is very important,” anyway?) But none have achieved quite the same ubiquity, and intimacy, that Siri has in her short career as America’s personal assistant.

A quick look at a Facebook page devoted to her gives an idea of how enmeshed the voice has become in the typical Apple user’s life. From standard questions about weather, traffic and daily schedules, users leap to the ultimate – “What’s the meaning of life?” (long definition follows); the pornographic (“I’ll pretend you didn’t say that,” she answers); and the matrimonial (“we hardly know one another.”)

Bennett won’t give her age in the CNN report, but said she’s been around long enough to have a 36-year-old son, and to be comfortable with knowing her voice has been a part of life for generations.

Cameron Bennett, a photographer  in Los Angeles who hears his mother more often than most people would probably be comfortable with, thinks she still doesn’t grasp the whole picture.

“She’s part of history,” Cameron Bennett said. “It was funny trying to explain to her how big it was. She uses her cell phone for 8 percent of what it can do.”

Check out the CNN “Red Chair” interview with Bennett here. You’ll never look at Siri’s voice the same way again.

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