Thursday, December 01, 2011

Siri-ously, Siri's 'abortion issues' just a glitch: Apple CEO

Apple's newly minted CEO Tim Cook has responded to what might eventually be called "Siri-gate," or perhaps even "Abortion-gate." It was reported earlier that Apple's iPhone 4S Siri voice assistant was not responding to requests for abortion centers or birth control, prompting the ACLU and others to call for a fix.

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The ACLU even created a petition in response.

At issue was the fact that Siri, which seems quite happy to bring up escort services, seems to have difficulty when asked to retrieve information about abortion clinics or women's health services in some areas, even if such locations are nearby.

In some cases, when people asked Siri where to find an abortion clinic, the response was directed them to a "crisis pregnancy center" (CPC), also called pregnancy resource centers (PRC) which are not abortion clinics, and instead, are organizations established to advise pregnant women against having an abortion.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, wrote a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook about the Siri matter. His response was:
Nancy,
Thanks for your note.

Our customers 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.

I appreciate you pointing this out.

Best Regards,
Tim
The only negative to that is that it is PR-speak. Spokesman Tim Neumayr said the exact same thing, word for word, as did Natalie Kerris, Apple spokeswoman.

We'd expect PR to be "on message," but we would have hoped Cook would use his own words, at least. Of course, if it had been late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, it might have been a one sentence email response, as he was known to do, so perhaps this is better.

We don't Siri-ously believe this is some sort of conspiracy, particularly with a beta product. Siri is expected to exit beta sometime in 2012.

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