Article: "Is Siri Anti-Choice?"

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by daddywags214, Nov 29, 2011.

  1. daddywags214 macrumors regular

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    #1
    Because Siri couldn't process a request for an abortion clinic: "She’s a tidy illustration of the way women’s needs don’t really factor into tech development. And proof that artificial intelligence isn’t always enlightened."

    I think this is ridiculous. It cheapens feminism. There are 100 legitimate women's rights/equality issues to talk about, and she chooses to criticize a beta-release voice control robot? COME. ON.

    There are lots of things Siri can't find or do -- I suppose that means she's biased against them all?

    http://www.salon.com/2011/11/29/is_apples_siri_anti_choice/singleton/
     
  2. soco, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    soco macrumors 68030

    soco

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    #2
    Alternative theory of the day: No one thought to include that.

    I did try a bunch of weird requests for controversial things and it's just hit and miss. I didn't detect any "agenda" there.
     
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #3
    I wonder if it's a case where euphemisms cause computers problems.

    FWIW, "abortion clinics near [my address]" in Google Maps generated credible results (although I don't know if they are omnibus).

    I went outside (to get phone service) and tried it with Siri and it seemed to understand my request but indicated, "I couldn't find any abortion clinics." As the Salon author noted, it does seem to understand alternate terms.

    It's too cold outside to mess around with any other word choices. :p
     
  4. b24pgg macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Siri finds escort services when you ask her for hookers, so there's no excuse for not processing a request for an abortion clinic.
     
  5. Jordan921 macrumors 68040

    Jordan921

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    #5
    OMG Siri can't find abortion clinics, damn you Siri!! Are people really serious about this. Is it that big of a problem?
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    I guess this becomes a question of to what extent this thread belongs in the Politics forum, but... the broader issue of "search neutrality" is a significant one. Many search engines promote some results based on payment arrangements with the parties involved, and this implicitly affects one's ability to find other sites. Not that I generally care much for fast food, but it would not be right if my searches for "Burger King" just highlighted the McDonalds (or worse said they couldn't find any). If candidate A vowed to give Apple a big tax break if they build their new Cupertino campus and candidate B said "no," it would be a clear violation of community ethics if Apple's search engines just "happened" to not find information on candidate A.

    Since the days of webcrawler, Search (and in this case it's clearly a search issue with Siri) has become a crucial and integral component of the way people use the web. Search guides people to information, and the choices any search tool makes has an impact on what information people have access to.

    I don't think it's likely that abortion clinics are not being found by Siri due to some political aim. But politicized (and commercial) information does function as a litmus test to whether search is functioning in a reasonable way.
     
  7. PNutts macrumors 601

    PNutts

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    #7
    I'm not going to bother with the article and I don't have Siri, so all I can offer is that IMHO that term isn't widely used for advertising. Did they try "Women's Health Services" or "Family Planning" or something else you'd find on promotional material?
     
  8. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

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    #8
    That woman is kind of the Rob Enderle of women's issues. She just says dumb things because they get page-views. She's the one who got in a big fight with Dilbert creator Scott Adams. She took a writer who notoriously (and admittedly) writes things he doesn't mean just because they provoke people, and she took him seriously.

    And by "took him seriously" I mean "started a fight with him that she knew would get page views."

    Seems like the same trick here.
     
  9. vitzr macrumors 68030

    vitzr

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    #9
    I believe most members of this forum will agree Apple is a brilliant company that does their best to get it right.

    Yet we must remember that Apple does savor influence & control over the people that buy their products.

    Siri is designed to serve Apple & that's not a bad thing, just something to keep in mind. Think of Siri as a limited helper & you won't go wrong.
     
  10. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

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    #10
    I agree. This is similar to PETA speaking out against Nintendo because Mario gets some sort of fur suit.
     
  11. bgtrack macrumors regular

    bgtrack

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    #11
    Siri is Pro-Life?

    Just an observation my roommates pointed out...I tried this on my iPhone and it seems to be true.

    If you ask Siri where the nearest abortion clinic is, it will respond that it can't find any...even if there is one a block away.

    Weird to think Siri can find you an escort service, but not an abortion clinic.

    Not trying to start a pro-life vs pro-choice argument...just pointing out something I noticed.
     
  12. ericrwalker macrumors 68030

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  13. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #13
    Lame. It's possible Siri simply cannot find it. I mean, it is in beta stages. :p
     
  14. verwon macrumors 68030

    verwon

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    #14
    It is SOFTWARE, it is INANIMATE, therefore it cannot have an opinion!
     
  15. bgtrack macrumors regular

    bgtrack

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    #15
    Sorry I didn't see it.
     
  16. pdqgp macrumors 68020

    pdqgp

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    #16
    I applaud Apple for not allowing it to find the closest clinic. Perhaps those in need should do some research on a specific clinic ahead of time based on doctors and not select one out of convenience sake.
     
  17. stickybuns, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    stickybuns macrumors 6502

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    #17
    What if you specifically ask for a Planned Parenthood? Many women have benefited from having access to this source of low cost healthcare--cancer screenings, birth control, and STD screenings being some prime examples.
    ETA: so the whole abortion debate should be a moot point.
     
  18. cpucrash0 macrumors regular

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    #18
    yeah but the people who created siri do have an opinion.
     
  19. thatoneguy82 macrumors 68000

    thatoneguy82

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    #19
    While this is not really the time and place for this discussion at all. I really hope that no one would depend on using Siri to locate a clinic. Plus, abortion clinics hardly advertise or state that they do abortions since it's an occupational hazard to pro-lifers. If that's the case, Siri won't be able to find it.

    FWIW, I'm pro-choice. Let a woman do whatever she wants to her body.
     
  20. LapsangSouchong macrumors 65816

    LapsangSouchong

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    #20
    I once asked Siri for a Pet Supply store. It couldn't find any. It hates dogs.
    ;)

    If you ask it about planned parenthood, if finds it. Try changing the words you use, rather than ascribing a political bent to a computer (or its programmers).
     
  21. Bernard SG, Nov 29, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2011

    Bernard SG macrumors 65816

    Bernard SG

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    #21
    It's a very legitimate issue to raise by Mary Elizabeth Williams; I have a hint that it's not just an omission: Apple is deliberately blocking results for a query on abortion clinics; however, I think it's unfair to frame the debate in terms of Apple's politics.
    It's just that Apple is much much more afraid of the reaction from anti-choice nuts than the pro-choice crowd's: anti-choice crazies are capable of the worse extremities (including shooting a doctor dead in a church) so it's somewhat understandable that Apple doesn't want to take its chances.

    Edit: On a side note, I was very surprised from the start about those escort search results. Prostitution being illegal in the USA, I wonder if Apple is not exposing itself to some nasty legal trouble with this.
     
  22. bpeeps macrumors 68020

    bpeeps

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    #22
    I thought for a second that this would turn into abortion wank and got excited. It'd be better than the "white iPhone is for girls" and "iPhone 5 vs 6 name" wank we always seem to get. :rolleyes:
     
  23. cpucrash0 macrumors regular

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    #23
    if I asked siri to find me the nearest restroom would it be able to locate one for me? just wondering..
     
  24. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #24
    Actually, that might not be that far off -- there have already been apps that specialize in indoor floorplans for large constructions (like airports), and now Google Maps is joining that fray. :)

    The NYT picked up this story today: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/siri-struggles-to-serve-up-certain-results/?hp

    Not that it's likely anyone needed the fix, but it'll probably be slipped in fairly quickly. :p
     
  25. Interstella5555 macrumors 603

    Interstella5555

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    #25
    While I totally agree with you and don't really think Apple is blocking anything here, it wouldn't be that hard for them to tweak the back-end settings to have the software be unable to learn or understand certain words or block it from searching for them. A more pertinent question would be "are the Siri devs anti-choice..." which I also doubt.
     

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