Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

Summary: Apple has offered an answer as to why Siri could not comment on a hot topic.

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Apple found itself in trouble again thanks to its voice-command assistant software, Siri. The latest debacle came about after it was discovered that Siri had few answers when it came to providing information about medical facilities that offer services and information related to reproductive health matters.

The lack of information caused a firestorm particularly because Siri seems to retain information about so many other health and sex-related topics, but not requests about the morning-after pill nor abortions.

Unlike some other problems plaguing the iPhone 4S (such as "batterygate"), Apple has responded more swiftly this time, likely given the heated opinions surrounding this topic.

Here is a copy of the note that Apple CEO Tim Cook sent to Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation on November 30, as published to the NARAL Pro-Choice America blog:

Nancy, Thanks for your note.

Our customers use Siri to find out all types of information and while it can find a lot, it doesn't always find what you want. 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.

I appreciate you pointing this out.

Best Regards, Tim

Siri is not expected to emerge from beta mode until 2012.

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33 comments
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  • Next iPhone

    Multiple choices of personality so you can pick the one that doesn't affend your beliefs.
    WebSiteManager
    • +100500

      @WebSiteManager
      dderss
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    I thought that Siri was a personal assistant. Sort of "Don't forget you have a meeting at 11 am", "You are going to the theater this evening", etc.. So it seems reasonable to say "I'm hungry for pizza" and be told "There's a CPK two blocks away". I don't put "I'm thinking of terminating my pregnancy" in the same category. Surely that's a bigger life decision than Siri is intended to assist you with? Perhaps to some people it's not...
    andyharris
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @andyharris
      In the case of a morning-after pill, no actually - that's a decision that has to be made within a very small window, not weeks of genuflecting. Someone may sincerely need a location where the pill can be obtained - it's not like they're sending out flyers.
      Nitz_Walsh
      • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

        @Nitz_Walsh <br><br>I agree with andy. <br><br>Siri is an assistant, not a doctor. I could expect Siri to answer a query like, "Where is the nearest planned parenthood?" but not necessarily answer, "Should I get an abortion?". <br><br>I would expect Siris general answer to most medical questions (questions that concern diagnosing a medical problem or questions that request information concerning taking any medication) by asking, "Would you like me to call your doctor so you can discuss this with your physician or perhaps you need to make an appointment with your physician or is this an emergency and should I call an ambulance?" <br><br>Also, about the morning after pill; keeping a list of all the different drugs that are sold at different pharmacies is different than answering the question, "Where is the nearest pharmacy?" While I would expect Siri to give the location of the nearest pharmacy I would not necessarily expect Siri to tell me if a specific medication is available at a specific pharmacy (For those who do not know, some meds are not available at all pharmacies. I have actually run into that challenge where a medication is not available at just any pharmacy.)
        John238
  • 'Debacle' 'BatteryGate'

    with ChangeWave poll showing 96% of 4S users are satisfied with their phone I understand now why Steve Jobs doesn't like talking to the press : they will never give Apple a fair break e.g: blowing up abortion question on a beta product as a 'debacle'.
    Davewrite
    • Yep, the media blows everything out of proportion

      @Davewrite And I cant believe that political correctness still generates news. It would be nice if people would think for themselves for a change.
      otaddy
    • Yes, they are never given a fair braek

      @Davewrite <br>I find that to be especially true in regaurds to Siri.<br><br>Since we all know that Apple releases nothing until it is ready, and the fact that Apple sold the phone with images of a perfectlly working Siri, they should be given a pass as the software is still in beta, which should not surprise anyone as we all know Apple does not release beta, in fact they do not release anything until it is ready.
      :|
      Tim Cook
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @Davewrite
      I have to admit that I would be rather shocked to find Steve Jobs talking to the press about this one.
      dunraven
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @Davewrite <a href="http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/apple-responds-after-siri-abortion-answers-debacle/64493">I agree. </a>
      wiseman2011
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @Davewrite
      You are told Siri is beta. Siri is not beta. You are told this so that any foul ups that come your way because of Siri have a built in fall guy. It give Apple plausible deniability.
      chethammer
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    Like I've said - ZDnet - the National Enquirer of IT News.

    Begin Opinion: Its a baby, not a choice. End Opinion
    gribittmep
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @gribittmep +1 and the choice was made when most decided to have sex!
      slickjim
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    " Dear Tim,

    What a load of BS. This was a conscious decision by your company to exclude this kind of information from Siri. If it failed to understand a certain type of question in this area of enquiry we might buy your BS answer. The fact that it fails to answer any questions in this area of enquiry indicates a conscious decision on the part of the programmers to exclude it, and we know the programmers don't make these decisions on their own at Apple.

    So Tim, try to come up with a better answer. "
    Goldie07
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    I'd rather it not be able to find the info. Seriously, what's up with this culture of death? I've gone over the topic from a million angles, and I seriously am not convinced that "choice" should ever outweigh life.
    CobraA1
    • Culture of death is the natural consequence of a selfish society where

      every person thinks they are the center of the universe.
      baggins_z
    • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

      @CobraA1
      That's really weird? In the case of the morning after pill, conception hasn't occured yet, but still it COULD still be a life. I hadn't thought about it like that before! Does that mean a man can rape a woman and tell her that her choice doesn't matter because they might make a baby and choice should never outweigh life?
      Amusal
      • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

        @Amusal I'm not really talking about the pill, I'm generally talking about abortion.

        "Does that mean a man can rape a woman and tell her that her choice doesn't matter because they might make a baby and choice should never outweigh life? "

        A man who rapes has committed a terrible, horrendous crime, and should be punished as such. Should we also punish the innocent child for the crimes of the father?
        CobraA1
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    I'm completely blown away. And we wonder why our country is in the shape it's in. Not only are we still arguing about an issue that was decided decades and decades ago... no we have to argue on where electronic devices stand on these issues.

    "Is iPhone 4S Siri Pro Life?" This is embarassing for America as a country, this makes us look like complete id10ts to the rest of the world.
    http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/177423/158/Iphones-Siri-Under-Fire

    And, as for the genius Carol Tobias that said this 'brilliant' statement in the article:
    "If this results in even one unborn baby getting the gift of life for Christmas, rather than being killed, National Right to Life rejoices."

    Uh... I hate to break it to her, but if a Woman ends up having a baby because her iPhone couldn't tell her where to get an abortion.... The baby's better off dead because [i]she[/i]'s not fit to be a mother.


    Oh, and BTW, I hate to rag on Channel 9's flamebait 'breaking news'... but Planned Parenthood is [i]not[/i] considered an abortion clinic. Abortions make up a very small part of the services they provide. Also, that 'reporter' made a point to show he was right outside a Planned Parenthood location, yet didn't bother to do a Siri search for... uh.... [i]Planned Parenthood[/i]???
    UrNotPayingAttention
  • RE: Apple responds after Siri abortion answers debacle

    @UrNotPayingAttention

    "And we wonder why our country is in the shape it's in. "

    Indeed. Why have we embraced a culture of death?

    "Not only are we still arguing about an issue that was decided decades and decades ago... "

    Decided in favor of death. Hardly a good decision, or a right one.

    "The baby's better off dead because she's not fit to be a mother."

    How do we determine who is "fit?" And why not give the child to somebody better, rather than killing it?

    "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
    -J.R.R. Tolkien
    CobraA1