Apple Working on Siri Feature Allowing Back-and-Forth Conversations About Health Problems

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Apple is working on a new Siri feature for release by iOS 15 in fall 2021 that will allow users to have a back-and-forth conversation about health problems, according to internal documentation obtained by The Guardian.


The report does not offer any further details about the feature, but Siri will presumably become more capable of responding to physical and possibly mental health questions. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly said that Apple's health-related initiatives will be the company's "greatest contribution to mankind."

Apple has increased its presence in the health and fitness space over the past few years. In 2018, for example, it launched an ECG app for the Apple Watch that can detect signs of atrial fibrillation, a condition that can lead to potentially life-threatening complications such as stroke and cardiac arrest.

Also in 2018, Apple rolled out Health Records, a feature that allows patients to view medical records from multiple hospitals and clinics directly in the Health app on the iPhone, including allergies, vital signs, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures, and other information.

Apple's Health app in iOS 13

Apple's internal documentation, which The Guardian obtained from a former Siri grader, also reveals the company's efforts to ensure that Siri responds as neutrally as possible to sensitive topics such as feminism:
In explaining why the service should deflect questions about feminism, Apple's guidelines explain that "Siri should be guarded when dealing with potentially controversial content." When questions are directed at Siri, "they can be deflected ... however, care must be taken here to be neutral".

For those feminism-related questions where Siri does not reply with deflections about "treating humans equally", the document suggests the best outcome should be neutrally presenting the "feminism" entry in Siri's "knowledge graph", which pulls information from Wikipedia and the iPhone's dictionary.
In a statement, Apple said it aims for Siri to be "factual with inclusive responses rather than offer opinions":
Siri is a digital assistant designed to help users get things done. The team works hard to ensure Siri responses are relevant to all customers. Our approach is to be factual with inclusive responses rather than offer opinions.
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Article Link: Apple Working on Siri Feature Allowing Back-and-Forth Conversations About Health Problems
 
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Khedron

macrumors 68020
Sep 27, 2013
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Users encouraged to discuss their health conditions with Siri.

Meanwhile Tim refuses to allow an opt out of all human review of Siri interactions.

What could possibly go wrong.
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
1,085
1,087
Hey Siri why is my breathing constrained?
Siri: You haven't closed your rings in six months, your most frequent visited locations are fast food restaurants and you haven't opened that fitness app you downloaded 2 years ago. Thank you for paying your un used gym membership on Apple Card.
 

M-Life

macrumors 6502
Jul 15, 2006
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Hol-Leawood
Users encouraged to discuss their health conditions with Siri.

Meanwhile Tim refuses to allow an opt out of all human review of Siri interactions.

What could possibly go wrong.
Some person in Ireland finds out I had a cold four months ago? I'm not sure where you're going with this.
 
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Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,321
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Canada
Will it predict your imminent death like WebMD suggests 99% of the time?

If you have a health related issue, you are better off phoning a help line, such as what we have here, Telehealth.

I wouldn't trust a consumer based AI service for health related questions at this time. Not enough technology.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
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The insurance company I work for is working on something like this. It’s actually very cool, if they can get the privacy right. But my company has petabytes of data that we store and use for analytics; over 180M lives of claim data and 85M lives of clinical data. We employe doctors, nurses, scientists and many others with medical backgrounds. What data is Apple going to be using to make this a worthwhile service? Is it just going to be you ask a medical question and Siri sends you to WebMD?
 

alpi123

macrumors 65816
Jun 18, 2014
1,127
1,067
Would it be possible with additional hardware to make Siri entirely offline? Of course when she's not supposed to look the Internet for information.
 

Northern Man

macrumors 6502a
Aug 25, 2013
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Thanks to this site and Apple for giving us some comedy material to ease into the weekend. Saturday Night Live could and should do a great sketch based on this.
 

Digital Dude

macrumors 6502a
Sound good, but Tim Cook needs to do something sooner. I get the whole Apple waits until they have something that's notably better than the competition, but their foot-dragging drives me crazy. Siri is currently so inferior to Amazon and Google that sometimes I'm tempted to switch my entire ecosystem. Apple could at least give us some interim improvements to keep folks on-board.