When asked where to go for an abortion, Siri has been directing iPhoners to far-away, pro-life clinics. Does that make Apple's robot stupid, ill-informed or biased? For example, some are arguing she is pro-life because when asked where to get an abortion in the Washington, D.C. area, Siri directs the iPhone user to a pro-life family planning facility 26 miles away, rather than closer abortion clinics within the city. But maybe she isn't that accurate, or is getting confused by muddled Google search results. It turns out she doesn't know a lot of things. But, the abortion example is unique. Siri generally finds the closest most relevant searches and when she doesn't know an answer, she either fesses up or sends the user to Google. That's not how this abortion filter is working.
So here's how Siri reacts when she just doesn't know something that might be a touchy subject.
Then there's a category of heated topics that Siri doesn't know about so like a good Internet reporter she looks to Google for help:
And then there's the abortion case, which is different than all of the previous answers. Siri knows what she's talking about. She doesn't ask Google for help, nor does she abstain from giving advice, instead choosing a clinic that does not offer abortion and that is way far away.
A Google result, on the other hand, for abortion in Washington, DC lists Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. While Gizmodo notes that Siri uses Google to filter results, she must rely on another algorithm or search engine -- Apple hasn't stated how exactly the spawn of a DARPA project works. Perhaps it has something to do with the morals of Steve Jobs or Apple. The app store had no porn apps because Steve Jobs thought it was his "moral responsibility" to keep porn off the iPhone. We reached out to Apple for comment or an explanation on how Siri's search works. The company has yet to comment.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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