Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Apple iPhone Siri Update
This past Sunday, I blogged about the Apple iPhone's Siri, and her noticeable lack of knowledge regarding abortion, contraception, and reproductive health in general.
I was thrilled to get a ton of feedback, via our wonderful readers and other sites picking up the story.
First things first:
The rumors are true -- Siri does not have any useful information about abortion/contraception/etc. Reader Amadi was amazingly helpful and provided screen shots of all the relevant questions we wanted to ask Siri. I highly recommend you check out her piece, which is fantastic. The images below are from her post.
Amadi notes there is a clinic less than three miles from where she was sitting when she asked Siri this question. Siri did not define abortion and did not offer to search the web, either.
Even searching by specific clinic names (and then with their street names) turned up nothing, while searching for a specific hardware store brought results, even though she searched using an incorrect specific name (!).
Birth control, EC, and rape queries were all similarly useless:
So, it seems clear we are on to something here. Now, there are two questions:
A. Was this on purpose? and
B. What do we do about it?
A. I don't know if this was on purpose or not. It is true that Siri is new technology and it's bound to have technical glitches. It is also true that Apple purchased this technology from another company. Norman Winarsky, one of the founders of Siri, was questioned on this topic, and he thinks "...what’s happening here is that Apple has made deals with Web services that provide local business information, and Apple probably hasn’t paid much attention to all the results that come up.”
I am inclined to agree with him, mostly.
However, part of me is also a little too sketched out by this. It seems really, really, really bizarre that inquires about other drugs (ie, Viagra), pull up relevant results while EC and other forms of BC don't. It seems weird Siri doesn't know what rape is, or where an abortion clinic is located in your area. How many coincidences until things start to seem like a purposeful pattern?
The bottom line, though, is that whether this was on purpose or not, we'll never know. I imagine if Apple gets wind of this they will say it was an accident. This part doesn't matter so much as Part B.
Part B is where you come in.
We have created a petition we would like you to sign:
Send this to your friends and family. Tweet it, Facebook it, digg it, Pinterest it, and post it on whatever other newfangled sites that are now verbable.
The more people we get on board, the more likely Apple is to take notice and fix this!