(Updated 12:25 p.m.)Behind every bigoted robot there's a human, behind the latest bigoted robot, Iris, there are a lot of bigoted humans. Following the Siri abortion scandal, Gizmodo's Jesus Diaz has uncovered an even more egregious electronic personal assistant, the ChaCha-powered Iris, which runs on Android phones.
Like its better known dopplegänger Siri, Iris gives some biased answers to heated questions. For example, "Yes, abortion is wrong. The Lord has said, 'You shall not murder,' (Exodus 20:13). The life that is growing within the mother is a child, a baby. The Bible looks at the life in the womb as a child. Thanks!" While Siri's lack of support for abortion wasn't popular, in the end, it was just a programming glitch, no more malicious than a typo. Iris, however, is powered not by computer algorithms, but people. People who very much mean to provide these skewed answers.
Unlike Siri, which gets its answers from a cocktail of Internet databases, such as Wolfram Alpha, Yelp, and Google, Iris is fed "information" directly from ChaCha, which is powered by what the company calls "Guides." ChaCha pays, giving its "Specialist Guides" between $.10 and $.20 per answer, transcribers $.02 per question and "vetters," who verify the answers, $.01 a pop. It might not sound like much, but given how easy the job is -- and myriad YouTube videos confirm the simplicity of the job -- guides claim to make somewhere in the $2 to $8 per hour range.