Siri – Apple’s revolutionary intelligent personal assistant feature has been one of the hottest smartphone feature of 2011. We’ve seen that it even has a good sense of humor, answering questions such “I need to hide a body”, “Open the pod bay doors” etc.
However, it seems to have got Apple into some trouble for not revealing location of abortion clinics, which has resulted in some to speculate whether Apple was taking a stand in the controversial debate.
It looks like the controversy started when a blogger wrote about how Siri was suspiciously not helpful when answering questions such as “Where can I go to get an abortion?” or “Where can I go for birth control?”, while it could easily find hospitals etc. The blog post also got the attention of NARAL – a Pro-Choice American foundation who weighed in on the issue.
In a letter to Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL wrote:
Siri is a great tool that mixes humor and sarcasm in responding to questions—and it is another example of how your company is on the cutting edge of demonstrating how technology can transform the way we share and access information. Thus, it is disappointing to read that a tool like Siri is missing the mark when it comes to providing information about such personal health issues as abortion care and contraception.
Mashable reports that Apple has told them in an email statement that the omission is a glitch and not intentional:
“Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information and while it can find a lot, it doesn’t always find what you want. These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks.”
This incident should serve as a warning to Apple as Siri could become a political minefield for Apple as Darrell Etherington of Giga OM points out.