Apple defends Siri abortion, birth control omissions as unintentional

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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 doesn?t 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 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.?



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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 97
    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*
  • Reply 2 of 97
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,949member
    Oh jeez... The <insert cause here> whiners are trying to get their 15 minutes of fame.
  • Reply 3 of 97
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 97
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 97
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 97
    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...
  • Reply 10 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 97
    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.



  • Reply 12 of 97
    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?
  • Reply 13 of 97
    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*



  • Reply 14 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 97
    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…
  • Reply 16 of 97
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
    And just to keep the thread on topic?





    Thanks man.
  • Reply 17 of 97
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 97
    A petition? Seriously?
  • Reply 19 of 97
    I asked Siri I wanted a "HAPPY ENDING" and gave a list of massage parlors..



    Thank you Siri.. I did have a happy ending.
  • Reply 20 of 97
    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.
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