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Apple tweaks Siri responses to help prevent suicides

post #1 of 47
Thread Starter 
Apple often touts how its products affect the lives of their users, and a recent update to Siri suggests that the company is committed to doing what it can to save those lives as well.

suicide it's a suicide


When the iOS digital assistant Siri is presented with a user that indicates he or she is considering suicide, the program will offer to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Before this most recent addition, Siri would show the locations of centers but not offer to call them.

The change to Siri's recommendations will be a feature in both iOS 6 and iOS 7. On devices without a calling feature, such as the iPad and the iPod touch, Siri will list and read off the NSPL phone number, but will then search for nearby suicide prevention centers.

The change appears to be a server-side alteration to Apple's digital assistant. Previous alterations have made Siri less tolerant of long-winded questions and improved her ability to tell and take jokes.

Apple's forthcoming iOS 7 update will give Siri even more capabilities, including the ability to control settings, search Twitter and Wikipedia, and search Google or Bing. Siri will also gain additional voice options, giving users the ability to a male or female voice for the digital assistant.
post #2 of 47

Good on Apple

post #3 of 47
Good move, Siri. She may be just an electronic voice but the thought originated from a human source. May not be a hug, but always, even in desolate moments, there will be someone somewhere who cares.

When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

I am not crazy! Three out of five court appointed psychiatrists said so.

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When I find time to rewrite the laws of Physics, there'll Finally be some changes made round here!

I am not crazy! Three out of five court appointed psychiatrists said so.

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post #4 of 47
So, just a followup question to the last few lines of this article: has Apple officially clarified that you can choose between Bing and Google with the new Siri? I know that right now, you can choose your preferred search client, but that's because Siri pushes the query to Safari. In the demo during WWDC the search results were pulled up, via Bing, in Siri, not in Safari.
post #5 of 47

I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 

post #6 of 47
This is awful news.

How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.
post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 

 

That would probably *increase* the suicide rate, not decrease it.  

post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

This is awful news.

How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.

So you think Apple isn't smart enough to know to call that number only in the US? Not to mention that it's an 800 number. I thought 800 numbers wouldn't work outside the US, anyway.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #9 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by toolsoldier View Post

So, just a followup question to the last few lines of this article: has Apple officially clarified that you can choose between Bing and Google with the new Siri? I know that right now, you can choose your preferred search client, but that's because Siri pushes the query to Safari. In the demo during WWDC the search results were pulled up, via Bing, in Siri, not in Safari.

 

 

With iOS 7, Siri will search using Bing UNLESS you tell her verbally to use Google. Search settings for Safari will be set at Bing for default. This makes sense because 1) most people will not care or notice the difference, 2) Google is on Apple's naughty list, and 3) people who really care can use the Google search app or tell Siri to use Google. 

post #10 of 47
Nice thought, but I doubt it will have any impact. There are two types of people committing suicide. The first type is someone that would actually do it. They are looking for information about the best way to do it. This type won't pay one bit of attention to Siri's response. The best chance you have to deter someone like this is to convince them the best way to do it is using certain materials/methods.....knowing that it will take them time to gather the resources to do it. The time allows the suicidal emotion to fade.
The second type of person is someone that won't actually do it. These people want empathy or attention. These are the type of people that cut their wrists, stand on bridges but don't jump, etc. These people will have a much better response to Siri. However, since these people don't usually kill themselves, Siri won't have much impact.
Still, the Siri response is the right thing to do.
If it were up to me I'd say funny things like, "I would be happy to help you off yourself, but unfortunately its illegal" Or, "Whatever you do, don't get caught trying to kill yourself, its illegal" Or, "don't get too discouraged if you fail, many before you have failed."
post #11 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


So you think Apple isn't smart enough to know to call that number only in the US? Not to mention that it's an 800 number. I thought 800 numbers wouldn't work outside the US, anyway.

800 numbers work internationally. You get to specify which countries can reach you when you sign up for your 800 number.

post #12 of 47
After suicide inquiries directed at her, couldn't Siri also give incorrect locations for train lines, incorrect times for buses, direct individuals to shorter, instead of taller, buildings, and maybe tell a few jokes to cheer the person up?
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #13 of 47
When do we get our Siri API? Two years and counting..
post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

I think Siri could go even further.  She should speak some life affirming quotes to help shore up the human spirit in a time of need. 

Well-intentioned thought, but Siri is not a licensed suicide prevention counselor.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

 

With iOS 7, Siri will search using Bing UNLESS you tell her verbally to use Google. Search settings for Safari will be set at Bing for default. This makes sense because 1) most people will not care or notice the difference, 2) Google is on Apple's naughty list, and 3) people who really care can use the Google search app or tell Siri to use Google. 

 

Groovy,

I knew that, with Google and Apple at odds, this was a move on the part of Apple to distance themselves further from Google, but I also like having the choice.  Right now I know that you can set Google as your default search engine on Safari, and was just curious if Siri would use your default search engine.  In any case, if I can specify which search engine to use when speaking with Siri then I'm happy.

post #16 of 47

I don't think that computers should be in the business of preventing suicides. If somebody has the intention of ending their life, then I doubt that any computer voice is going to stop them.

 

SIRI should just tell the person "look, things could be a lot worse. Consider yourself lucky that you are not on Android, because the lag would've surely caused you to blow your brains out a long time ago."

post #17 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

This is awful news.

How helpful is it for Siri to call the American National Suicide Prevention line when I don't live in the USA?

Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of
post #18 of 47
Assuming your posting isn't a joke, there's nothing that says it won't be localized and even if it's not, is cost of a phone call really an issue if you're about to kill yourself anyway?
post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Not only will I be dead, I will have HUGE long distance bill. This is going to cause unnecessary suffering, pain and money loss to tens of thousands.

 

If somebody's already dead, I would think that a phone bill would be the least of their concerns. lol.gif

post #20 of 47

I thought maybe they had Siri stop giving responses such as, "Wow, that was a really stupid question, you should help clean up the gene pool by killing yourself."

post #21 of 47
Yet Siri refuses to call 911

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #22 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheUnfetteredMind View Post

I thought maybe they had Siri stop giving responses such as, "Wow, that was a really stupid question, you should help clean up the gene pool by killing yourself."

She often says meaningless little phrases in passing before actually getting the answer. I think she does this just to mask the delay in getting the answer from the server.

 

"Okay, I'm on it."

 

"Let me think about that."

 

The other day I asked her for the basketball score and she said "Okay sports fan." before getting the score. 1rolleyes.gif

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #23 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

The other day I asked her for the basketball score and she said "Okay sports fan." before getting the score. 1rolleyes.gif

 

Just for fun, I just asked SIRI right now where I could find good prostitutes, and SIRI gave me a list of three escort services nearby me, sorted by rating.1smoking.gif

post #24 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Well-intentioned thought, but Siri is not a licensed suicide prevention counselor.

Probably not a good idea to have a beta suicide counsellor:

User: "Can you give me a reason to live?"
Siri: "..."
User: "Siri?"
Siri: "..."
User: " Siri?"
Siri: "I'm working on it..."
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Well-intentioned thought, but Siri is not a licensed suicide prevention counselor.

She could at least quote some Stuart Smalley.


(Not veiled attempt to go political. Strictly SNL)
post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Just for fun, I just asked SIRI right now where I could find good prostitutes, and SIRI gave me a list of three escort services nearby me, sorted by rating.1smoking.gif

I wonder how many of those are sting-ops….. Probably all.
post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


So you think Apple isn't smart enough to know to call that number only in the US? Not to mention that it's an 800 number. I thought 800 numbers wouldn't work outside the US, anyway.

 

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

 

This kind of thing is so rude, so casually done, and done so often at AppleInsider.  

All it takes to correct it, is a tiny smidgen of professionalism and a moments thought before they post.  Just simply add "In the USA ..." before the statement.  

 

But then that requires thinking of other countries as being equal to your own, which is a very foreign thought to most Americans it seems. If the shoe were on the other foot, the Americans would be the first to complain. 

post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

 

Actually, this is quite common amongst a number of companies, usually within the United States, not just this site.

 

Even Apple snuck a reference in at the end of their keynote: To be released in THE FALL.

 

Do you have any idea how irritating it is to have to work out when the seasons begin and end in different parts of the world just to know when something is going to be released?

Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #29 of 47

Being the cynic I am I see a huge, unnecessary liability being taken on by Apple. If they purport to be trying to help people considering suicide then any failure on their part will be grounds for a lawsuit alleging malpractice or some such nonsense. I can just see the family of a suicide victim raging at Apple on CNN because Siri didn't prevent it like "Apple promised." Have I become to cynical to think like this? 

post #30 of 47

OK, this is going to suck.  Big time.

 

I have a first therapy appointment tomorrow, one which I actually plan on keeping.  I'm not so depressed that I plan on killing myself.  But trust me, I've thought about it, and I've wished that family situations would let me.

 

Would Siri stop me?  I have no idea, really.  But I think if someone asks her something like that, and they get a decent response like a number to call, that can't be a bad thing.  It certainly won't hurt.  Will it save someone's life?  I have no idea.  But it can't hurt.

 

Actually, I will ask my psychologist tomorrow.  Seriously.  I will ask her what she thinks.

post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

How would you know this?

 

If you would stop complaining for one second and take the time to realize that the author is probably in the US, hence the example image was captured from a USA iPhone and also try to understand that it is rather difficult to test Siri functionality in any country other than the one you are in. Furthermore, AI is a USA based company, the server is in the USA, the locale setting is US English and Apple is a USA based company. Does it really seem irrational to you that much of the content here is also USA-centric?

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

This kind of thing is so rude, so casually done, and done so often at AppleInsider.  
All it takes to correct it, is a tiny smidgen of professionalism and a moments thought before they post.  Just simply add "In the USA ..." before the statement.  

But then that requires thinking of other countries as being equal to your own, which is a very foreign thought to most Americans it seems. If the shoe were on the other foot, the Americans would be the first to complain. 

Maybe we just don't care.
post #33 of 47
i wish Siri would help me find a safe, painless and reliable form of suicide, instead of telling me to "get help" when there's nothing anyone will do to help me actually solve the problems that i have. Drugs do not work (they make things far far far worse, hence the black box warnings...). What keeps me alive is knowing that there's no 100% reliable, painless and safe method that i could have access to. Suicide failure would definitely worsen my life situation and i hate pain (which is part of why i've looked into it so deeply), so i'm not going to look for THAT.

As for suicide being illegal... that's just damned anti-freedom. Suicide is a biological impulse. It's a person's final attempt at escape from pain, or for ending suffering (from physical/emotional pain, or lack of ability to have self-determination in your life). See Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Anti-suicide rhetoric is offensive. People don't just randomly try to kill themselves for fun and profit, or because they're selfish. That's the number one offensive comment i hear, that "suicide is selfish." Blame the victim. Stupid.
post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

 

This kind of thing is so rude, so casually done, and done so often at AppleInsider.  

All it takes to correct it, is a tiny smidgen of professionalism and a moments thought before they post.  Just simply add "In the USA ..." before the statement.  

 

But then that requires thinking of other countries as being equal to your own, which is a very foreign thought to most Americans it seems. If the shoe were on the other foot, the Americans would be the first to complain. 

 

Yeah, i'm in the USA and i notice it myself. It must be really offensive to people outside the USA. But then, Apple Insider has so many typos on a regular basis that i'm pretty sure professionalism isn't part of the mission statement.

post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post

i wish Siri would help me find a safe, painless and reliable form of suicide, instead of telling me to "get help" when there's nothing anyone will do to help me actually solve the problems that i have. Drugs do not work (they make things far far far worse, hence the black box warnings...). What keeps me alive is knowing that there's no 100% reliable, painless and safe method that i could have access to. Suicide failure would definitely worsen my life situation and i hate pain (which is part of why i've looked into it so deeply), so i'm not going to look for THAT.

As for suicide being illegal... that's just damned anti-freedom. Suicide is a biological impulse. It's a person's final attempt at escape from pain, or for ending suffering (from physical/emotional pain, or lack of ability to have self-determination in your life). See Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Anti-suicide rhetoric is offensive. People don't just randomly try to kill themselves for fun and profit, or because they're selfish. That's the number one offensive comment i hear, that "suicide is selfish." Blame the victim. Stupid.

If or when you do commit suicide, please try to be considerate of others and do in such a way as it does not tie up rush hour traffic or make your mother clean up a mess.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #36 of 47
These are some pretty brave admissions from some people on the forums.
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by dysamoria View Post

i wish Siri would help me find a safe, painless and reliable form of suicide, instead of telling me to "get help" when there's nothing anyone will do to help me actually solve the problems that i have. Drugs do not work (they make things far far far worse, hence the black box warnings...). What keeps me alive is knowing that there's no 100% reliable, painless and safe method that i could have access to. Suicide failure would definitely worsen my life situation and i hate pain (which is part of why i've looked into it so deeply), so i'm not going to look for THAT.

As for suicide being illegal... that's just damned anti-freedom. Suicide is a biological impulse. It's a person's final attempt at escape from pain, or for ending suffering (from physical/emotional pain, or lack of ability to have self-determination in your life). See Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Anti-suicide rhetoric is offensive. People don't just randomly try to kill themselves for fun and profit, or because they're selfish. That's the number one offensive comment i hear, that "suicide is selfish." Blame the victim. Stupid.

One reason suicide is illegal is to make it a crime to help someone do it.  It makes them an accomplice.  I'm not suggesting I favor making it illegal.  Agree completely that people should be able to off themselves if they want. 

post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

 

 

And where did you get those stats from? There are obviously readers from all over the world here, but there seems to be quite many who are from the US. Are you claiming that the majority of readers here are not from the US?

 

And besides, this website is American, Apple is American and any Apple user, no matter where they are located, should know that Apple serves the US market before anybody else. That's the way that it's always been, and that's the way that it will continue to be.

post #39 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ash471 View Post

One reason suicide is illegal is to make it a crime to help someone do it.  It makes them an accomplice.  I'm not suggesting I favor making it illegal.  Agree completely that people should be able to off themselves if they want. 

It should be legal to help other people kill themselves too. If somebody is too old or too sick and they wish to die, then somebody should help them. That shouldn't be illegal.

post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually I was attempting to point out that YET AGAIN the writers at Apple Insider completely aren't even thinking of the fact that the majority of their readership is not located in the United States of America.  

This kind of thing is so rude, so casually done, and done so often at AppleInsider.  
All it takes to correct it, is a tiny smidgen of professionalism and a moments thought before they post.  Just simply add "In the USA ..." before the statement.  

But then that requires thinking of other countries as being equal to your own, which is a very foreign thought to most Americans it seems. If the shoe were on the other foot, the Americans would be the first to complain. 

Is AppleInsider not a U.S. company? And how do you know the percentage of their readership?

Sounds like you have a bit of a complex.
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