By Anne Landman on November 30, 2011

Siri logoApple is being accused of using its new IPhone 4S to promote an anti-abortion agenda. IPhone 4S users in big cities have found that when they ask their IPhone to locate abortion clinics, the phone's new voice-assistant, Siri, says she can't find any. Instead, she directs users to "crisis pregnancy" centers, which do not offer abortion services. When an IPhone user named Kristen asked Siri why she is anti-abortion, the phone responded, "I just am, Kristen." Users who ask the phone to locate places where they can get emergency contraception are shown a Google results page containing definitions. Siri may not help IPhone owners find abortion services or even emergency contraception, but she will help users locate strip clubs, escort services, Viagra and plastic surgeons who do breast implants. Siri will even recommend a good place to dump a body.

Comments

By this logic Siri also is also opposed to spanish speakers.

The author of this article (perhaps like majority of the population) must think that NLP (natural language processing) is magic or that their phone is a sapient being. Presumably the reason the phone's responses are unhelpful has to do with how organizations want to associate themselves with the word abortion. Planned Parenthood wants to emphasize the fact that the majority of their services are not abortion, so they do not want to be considered "abortion clinics." However, an organization that exists solely to condemn abortions would logically associate itself with the word.

What happens if you use "family planning" or "planned parenthood" as your query? If those queries yield no results, then there might be some merit to the claims expressed in this article. Also, who in their right mind would expect a cogent reply when giving their phone a natural language query about its "opinion?"

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/11/30/apple-takes-heat-for-misleading-siri-abortion-advice/

Norman Winarsky, who co-founded the firm that developed Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, told the New York Times that the third-party services Siri uses to generate its answers were probably to blame for the software’s anti-abortion bias.

"'Those answers would be coming from the Web services that Siri is connecting to, not necessarily Apple,' he said. '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.'"

Ian, Planned Parenthood mentions the word abortion many times on their website, and a search on the web for "abortion clinic" brings up PP prominently. The fact that I can ask Siri "what's for dinner" and she comes up with a list of restaurants close by, or "where can I find a dress?" and she gives a list of women's clothing stores, tells me she should be smart enough to come up with abortion clinic locations.

Asking "where can I find family planning services" produces only a response of business with "family planning" and "family" in their name.

Ask Siri where to get Viagra, and she responds with closest pharmacies. Ask her where to get birth control pills, contraceptives, or popular specific birth control brand names, and she comes back with nothing.

Actually, the examples you mentioned obviously work by using categories, not by using any advanced artificial intelligence (because advanced artificial intelligence is still science fiction and all these things can be done by using categories). So it seems like Siri just doesn't include a category for abortion or family planning yet. And Siri is still in Beta stage (i.E. it is an unfinished product), so this doesn't have to have any political reason. Or as another anonymous commenttor said: by the same logic, Siri also opposes spanish speakers.

Ian, Planned Parenthood mentions the word abortion many times on their website, and a search on the web for "abortion clinic" brings up PP prominently. The fact that I can ask Siri "what's for dinner" and she comes up with a list of restaurants close by, or "where can I find a dress?" and she gives a list of women's clothing stores, tells me she should be smart enough to come up with abortion clinic locations.

Asking "where can I find family planning services" produces only a response of business with "family planning" and "family" in their name.

Ask Siri where to get Viagra, and she responds with closest pharmacies. Ask her where to get birth control pills, contraceptives, or popular specific birth control brand names, and she comes back with nothing.

Clearly, Apple does not take a stance on abortion. It's the services Siri is using to return the results. Dig deeper before you criticize.

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