"The world is getting better" but digital assistant Siri needs to learn Icelandic

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland at the Opening …

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, the President of Iceland at the Opening of Parliament 2022. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Misguided yearning for the past, the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the war in Ukraine, the digital assistant Siri and the Icelandic language were all topics that the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson touched upon in his speech at the opening of Parliament earlier today.

"A strong Parliament is not stuck in the comfortable venues of habit. Or are changes maybe not a good thing? Sometimes the yearning for the past can take over, not in the least when people get older. I can personally vouch for that," said the President, who still did not seem too fond of being stuck in the past.

"The yearning for the past can be misguided, can create a false narrative, false memories. A historical memory can, on the other hand, encourage us to action and bring the past to life."

The Volcanic eruption in Heimaey in the Westman Islands in …

The Volcanic eruption in Heimaey in the Westman Islands in 1973. Mbl.is/Ólafur K. Magnússon

Almost 50 years since the volcanic eruption in the Westman Islands

The President also mentioned that 50 years ago Iceland's fishing jurisdiction was extended to 50 nautical miles and in only a few months there will be 50 years since the volcanic eruption occurred in the Westman Islands. He said that natural disasters remind us of the challenges of mother nature in our country, but it also reminds us of the immense power of coming together and working together when we need to.

"Digital Siri doesn't speak Icelandic"

The President also talked about the importance of the Icelandic language, its historical role in the fight for independence and its future role in the digital areana of modern life.

"We had our sagas in our own language, the words of the Lord in our own language, books of law, of historical chronicles, rhymes and other things in our own language. But everything in the world is fleeting. Now, digital Siri doesn't speak Icelandic. Our very own Embla is learning the language but we must make sure that Icelandic has its place in the digital arena."

Digital Siri needs to learn Icelandic.

Digital Siri needs to learn Icelandic. AFP/Mandy Cheng

Patience needed for those who want to learn

The President said it was important to show those who move to Iceland patience when they are learning Icelandic, especially when they are in the process of doing so and need assistance.

"Icelandic is our language and the Icelandic Republic is a strong country. But it goes without saying that there are a lot of things we can do better in this country, and we can increase the standard of living and the health of our residents. That has to be the main goal for you, my fine members of Parliament. The effort to do so must be the trademark of a strong Parliament. Let us not forget everything we have achieved here and all over the world.

Let us not forget that life expectancy and the quality of living has increased, and also freedom and human rights. Let us not forget that new technology and science can continue to provide the solutions to our problems, to the climate change, to pandemics and other pressing challenges. The world is getting better."

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