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Apple defends Siri abortion, birth control omissions as unintentional

post #1 of 98
Thread Starter 
After rights groups criticized Apple for Siri's inability to field requests regarding abortion clinics and birth control, a company spokesperson has said the omissions were "not intentional," while reminding that the service is still in beta.

Reports that the new voice assistant feature on the iPhone 4S was having trouble with abortion-related results emerged earlier this week. Bloggers and rights organizations quickly voiced concern over the omission.

For instance, the ACLU took issue with the fact that Siri is able to answer questions about where to have sex or where to find a local escort service, but provides "false and misleading information about abortion" because it directs users to pregnancy crisis centers.

Responding to the criticism, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris told The New York Times on Wednesday that the problem was simply a glitch in the product that is still being worked out.

Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information, and while it can find a lot, it doesnt always find what you want, she said. These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone, it simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks.

Norman Winarsky, who co-founded Siri before Apple bought it last year, speculated that the issue could lie with third-party services that Siri draws information from. However, Winarsky noted that he is has no direct knowledge of what Apple has done with Siri since acquiring it.

Those answers would be coming from the Web services that Siri is connecting to, not necessarily Apple, he told the Times. My guess at whats happening here is that Apple has made deals with Web services that provide local business information, and Apple probably hasnt paid much attention to all the results that come up.

Siri has been a major selling point of the iPhone 4S, which launched in October. Analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee attributed the "better than expected" reception of the handset to the new software. The iPhone 4S handily broke previous sales records in its first weekend of sales and is expected to set an all-time high this quarter.

Renewed interest in voice assistant features has prompted a number of Siri clones, many of which do not perform as well as Apple's app. For instance, a test of basic requests on an Android app that compares itself to Siri resulted in one successful web search, repeated forced closings, and multiple failures to understand commands.

Apple's competitors have downplayed Siri's abilities as nothing special. Microsoft claims to have had Siri-like capabilities in its Windows Phones for over a year with its TellMe technology, but a side-by-side comparison of the two services produced embarrassing results on the Windows Phone device.



Rival Google has compared Siri to the bumbling C3PO droid from Star Wars, while equating its own voice functionality with the computer from Star Trek's starship Enterprise. Android boss Andy Rubin said last month that he doesn't believe that phones should be assistants.
post #2 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Android boss Andy Rubin said last month that he doesn't believe that phones should be assistants.

"Trust your browser/search engine, not your phone. After all, who knows more of your secrets already?"

*said silkily while slowly placing inhumanly long, pale fingers on your shoulders*
post #3 of 98
Oh jeez... The <insert cause here> whiners are trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.
post #4 of 98
I honestly think that people really have too much time on their hands when it comes to this kinda story. OMG. Why not ask where the nearest Nuclear reactor is and put it in a story so those anti nuke people can criticize Apple for supporting toxic waste. This kinda crap is so frivolous.
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post #5 of 98
I think that this thread has the power to get way to out of hand. Looking at some of the insults tossed about just when smartphones are brought up. I hate to see what will come up when a serious subject is involved.

I know that you don't generally close threads but this can get out of hand.
post #6 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple v. Samsung View Post

I think that this thread has the power to get way to out of hand.

And when it (invariably) does, it'll be moved to PoliticalOutsider where all the other controversial tech threads go to die.
post #7 of 98
I can see it now - Siri having to recite a disclaimer prior to answering any question.

News Flash! The Internet might be wrong. That includes this post.
post #8 of 98
People really got upset over this? It's not like the results came back with places to buy wire hangers or links to selling children. Who really expects Siri, which sources other companies search engines for results would understand every question it was asked?


Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Oh jeez... The <insert cause here> whiners are trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.

Now that there are some ties to Carrier IQ showing up in iOS the media can finally care about that issue. After all the location data issue was blown out of proportion for backing up cell tower data to your iPhone backup via iTunes.

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post #9 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristophB View Post

I can see it now - Siri having to recite a disclaimer prior to answering any question.

News Flash! The Internet might be wrong. That includes this post.

What the video comparing MS's TellMe to Siri. It thinks he asked for "teen anal" of all things.


PS: Why can't I look up an actress on Google without it suggesting the word "feet" after their name.

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post #10 of 98
Let's see, birth CONTROL -- condoms, the pill, abstinence... and there are other options, but nothing is perfect, well except abstinence... So, do people really want Siri to find them an abortion? That just sounds like an abortion of a feature. :roll eyes:

The first thing people should do, is try to be more responsible...
post #11 of 98
This is a real story that tens of millions of people would care about. So it is right for AI to report it and for Apple PR to respond within hours of it hitting the news. But it is not a major story.

In all likelihood, Apple unknowingly contracted with a company who is politicizing their search results. This will get fixed really soon, I guarantee it.

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post #12 of 98
THIS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHoukZpMhDE

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

What the video comparing MS's TellMe to Siri. It thinks he asked for "teen anal" of all things.


PS: Why can't I look up an actress on Google without it suggesting the word "feet" after their name.
post #13 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple v. Samsung View Post

I think that this thread has the power to get way to out of hand. Looking at some of the insults tossed about just when smartphones are brought up. I hate to see what will come up when a serious subject is involved.

I know that you don't generally close threads but this can get out of hand.

That, or you can simply not click the "comments" button. Who are you trying to spare from the horrors of this thread by shutting it down? You or me?

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post #14 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

"Trust your browser/search engine, not your phone. After all, who knows more of your secrets already?"

*said silkily while slowly placing inhumanly long, pale fingers on your shoulders*

post #15 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

People really got upset over this? It's not like the results came back with places to buy wire hangers or links to selling children.




Now that there are some ties to Carrier IQ showing up in iOS the media can finally care about that issue. After all the location data issue was blown out of proportion for backing up cell tower data to your iPhone backup via iTunes.

I hadn't seen reports of ios using carrier iq. I assume one of our intrepid reporters here is working on it. Any good links for that?

Just so this post is on topic: abortion.
post #16 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post

I hadn't seen reports of ios using carrier iq. I assume one of our intrepid reporters here is working on it. Any good links for that?

Just so this post is on topic: abortion.


And just to keep the thread on topic…

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post #17 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


And just to keep the thread on topic



Thanks man.
post #18 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

THIS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHoukZpMhDE

"TEEN ANAL"?!
No wonder Microsoft buried Tellme.
And Craig Mundie had to unbury it and compare it to Siri.

I feel sorry for Nokia... nah. They made their bed. Now they have to sleep in it.

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post #19 of 98
A petition? Seriously?
post #20 of 98
I asked Siri I wanted a "HAPPY ENDING" and gave a list of massage parlors..

Thank you Siri.. I did have a happy ending.
post #21 of 98
The major problem with Siri is that Apple can and does filter the requests that go to the search engines and the replies that come back from the search engines.

If you ask something of which Apple does not approve, you do not get the unbiased, real answer, you get the answer that Apple decides is appropriate for you.

Welcome to Apple's walled garden. It looks beautiful, but the beauty is deceiving.
post #22 of 98
post #23 of 98
Haha I'm watching Colbert and he's making fun of this right now!
post #24 of 98
Yeah, that's exactly the true life story of all the 'sluts' who might seek an abortion.
post #25 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple v. Samsung View Post

I think that this thread has the power to get way to out of hand. Looking at some of the insults tossed about just when smartphones are brought up. I hate to see what will come up when a serious subject is involved.

I know that you don't generally close threads but this can get out of hand.

SHOCK!!! HORROR!! Controversy... Oh no. Close this forum down before it gets interesting. Interesting is the opiate of the people and I can't bear it!
post #26 of 98
To NARAL, ACLU, and all Pro-Choice Activists:

Here you go..

post #27 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Let's see, birth CONTROL -- condoms, the pill, abstinence... and there are other options, but nothing is perfect, well except abstinence... So, do people really want Siri to find them an abortion? That just sounds like an abortion of a feature. :roll eyes:

The first thing people should do, is try to be more responsible...

??? It's right there in the Yellow Pages, what does this have to do with people being responsible? Why *shouldn't* Siri offer the option if it is just a regular phone and address listing?

Heck, even in Utah: http://www.yellowpages.com/utah/abortion

Any search for Abortion in general gives Abortion Services and Abortion Alternatives. Fair and square.
post #28 of 98
See what happens when people believe that "it just works" motto.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #29 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Renewed interest in voice assistant features has prompted a number of Siri clones, many of which do not perform as well as Apple's app.

If "many" do not perform as well as Siri, which ones do perform as well (or better) than Siri?
post #30 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

If "many" do not perform as well as Siri, which ones do perform as well (or better) than Siri?

I don't think anything else on the consumer market come close to besting Siri. Even if you found a standalone app that had Nuance quality voice recognition and Siri quality contextual understanding you'd still be lacking the integration with the OS.

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post #31 of 98
There's a lot of things Siri doesn't do perfectly. But guess which one made a headline.

Of course, people who want an abortion but are so lazy they can't even be bothered to actually type in a search window... perhaps they shouldn't reproduce. And neither should their parents, for that matter.
post #32 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by camper View Post

The major problem with Siri is that Apple can and does filter the requests that go to the search engines and the replies that come back from the search engines.

If you ask something of which Apple does not approve, you do not get the unbiased, real answer, you get the answer that Apple decides is appropriate for you.

Welcome to Apple's walled garden. It looks beautiful, but the beauty is deceiving.

Uh huh. Apple is reviewing every one of those Siri requests and censoring them in real time. Just like those ATM machines with little people inside, printing money.

Please feel free give us documented examples of Apple doctoring Siri's replies from an "unbiased real answer" to "the answer that Apple decides is appropriate for you". Otherwise I call BS and would ask you to adjust your tinfoil hat for a better fit.
post #33 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by libertyforall View Post

Let's see, birth CONTROL -- condoms, the pill, abstinence... and there are other options, but nothing is perfect, well except abstinence... So, do people really want Siri to find them an abortion? That just sounds like an abortion of a feature. :roll eyes:

The first thing people should do, is try to be more responsible...

Abstinence is perfect?

Hmmm... I better let that go. Best not to add one more item to the "something to offend everybody" list.

I'll ask Siri about it.
Hmmmmmm...
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Hmmmmmm...
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post #34 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

People really got upset over this? It's not like the results came back with places to buy wire hangers or links to selling children. Who really expects Siri, which sources other companies search engines for results would understand every question it was asked?

This.

But to be fair (or not), it's the ACLU. They don't get upset. They stay upset and are continually finding things to justify why.
post #35 of 98
A bit of perspective: The original genesis of is story was that anti-abortion groups (i.e., church based, religious right) were gloating that apparently Apple supported their cause by this whole "controversy" of not directing searches to abortion clinics.

It appears Apple was forced to more or less defend itself and remove any association with any one political or social ideology.

Check the Huffington Post. I believe that is where I saw the original story.
post #36 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Who really expects Siri, which sources other companies search engines for results would understand every question it was asked?

More to the point, is it Apple's fault if said other services haven't cataloged some places.

Consider, for example, those abortion clinics. maybe they don't want to be listed in Google's mapping service because it would make them easier targets. Particularly in certain areas of the country which are much more anti-abortion.

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post #37 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple defends Siri abortion, birth control omissions as unintentional.html

Why is Siri so special that Apple will defend her for having an abortion, and unintentionally omitting birth control, ahead of all those other wannabee AI's who also got pregnant?
post #38 of 98
leave out the 'abortion' bit - this is human 'feel good' tactics.

Try asking "Siri where do I go to murder my baby in the womb". Siri might understand something a little more direct
post #39 of 98
Me: Siri, I want to kill my unborn.
Siri: I found your location and will call 911 to inform the nearest police station.

Me: Siri, my boyfriend wants me to have an abortion.
Siri: I found two shrinks nearby.

Me: Siri, I'm pregnant and am not sure if I want to keep my baby.
Siri: You might consider to visit a Planned Parenthood location.

Me: Siri, I'm pregnant and am unsure about keeping my baby.
Siri: You might consider visiting a Right to Life location.

Me: Siri, you really confuse me with your answers.
Siri: I'm sorry. Does the answer '42' help you in any way.

Me: Siri, where is the highest building nearby.
Siri: You're not drawing any conclusions out of my previous answers, do you.

Oooh, the intricacies.
post #40 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doctor David View Post

I hadn't seen reports of ios using carrier iq. I assume one of our intrepid reporters here is working on it. Any good links for that?


http://www.theverge.com/2011/11/30/2...ple-ios-iphone

"We were able to independently verify that at the very least, references to Carrier IQ's servers do exist within iPhoneOS 3.1.3 in a file located at /usr/bin/IQAgent. What exactly that binary is able to access or how it may communicate with either carriers or Carrier IQ is not yet known, though there are references to an IQAgent log on the device as well as references to collector.sky.carrieriq.com."

For versions 4.0 and 5.0, Intell on MacRumors' forums has found similar references to the http://collector.sky.carrieriq.com location within /usr/bin/awd_ice2, although we have not independently verified that yet. Again, no clear word on just what is or is not being tracked or collected."

Siri. Staying on topic too.

By the way, a quote from 9to5: "Just like when Google’s search algorithm pulls up manipulated results (like Santorum), Apple and its location partners like Yelp are pulling up manipulated results. Still, Apple plans on fixing this issue."

It's a beta. It will improve with each update. Some of these special interest folks get a lot more press than they deserve.
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