After the Internet freaked out over Siri's apparent pro-life bias, Apple has responded, but not apologized or fixed (yet), the personal assistant's abortion "glitch." Four days after the Abortioneers blog discovered that Siri gave pro-life listings for requests to find an abortion provider, the story got enough web attention that the iMaker felt inclined to respond. Apple told CNET's Elinor Mills that the whole thing was a kink in Siri's software and not purposeful. "These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product," said Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr. "We find places where we can do better, and we will in the coming weeks," continued Neumayr. It's not exactly an apology or an indication of what exactly Apple will do. But the company insists it's not a conspiracy.
Apple claims that Siri was not built in with any moral bias and vaguely alluded to fixing the issue, but that hasn't stopped groups from creating petitions to "fix" Siri. Both the ACLU and the Abortioneers have petitions asking Apple to change the way Siri responds to an abortion. The company hasn't exactly said it would change the software to reflect more liberal views, appeasing these groups, but said it would "find places where we can do better," -- that's not exactly the response these groups are looking for. They want Apple to "point users to the right places," which in their opinion is an abortion clinic. Apple's response just said it would "do better." Update: This afternoon Apple CEO Tim Cook responded directly to at least one of these upset groups. He gave the very same vague statement as Apple spokespeople gave to reporters earlier today, telling the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League the whole thing was a "glitch" and that they will "do better."
The whole thing seems fishier than just a search glitch. As we noted, she doesn't seem to answer any other questions this way. And even when asked about a "pregnancy termination clinic," Siri gives useless information, reported Gizmodo, pointing users to chiropractors and acupuncturists.
Of course, it's not really clear why Apple would program Siri as a conservative. While some cried (or cheered) bias, others doubted that Apple or Siri would take that or any stance on the heated topic. TUAW's Chris Rawson called the whole thing media sensationalism and Daring Fireball's John Gruber pointed out that Apple's moral bias would skew Siri in the other direction -- Steve Jobs being a hippy and all. Yet, Steve Jobs did have a thing against porn. Apple's statement indicates that the media did in fact overreact to what was just a glitch. And as Norman Winarsky, one of the founders of Siri, posited that the search engine where Siri gets her information could be causing the issue and that Apple doesn't keep track of all the various places the personal assistant could get data. Sounds legitimate. Though, Steven Colbert, arbiter of all things ridiculous and conservative, still thinks that "Siri is clearly an arch-conservative woman. Like, Laura Ingraham, but less robotic."
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