Following claims that Apple’s Siri virtual assistant has a pro-life bias, refusing to provide directions to an abortion clinic, various consumers and rights groups have spoken out against Siri’s ‘anti-choice extremist’ behavior.
Meanwhile, Apple has responded to a request for comment from the New York Times, with Apple PR rep Natalie Kerris stating that any perceived pro-life bias is unintentional, and pointing out that Siri is beta software. Kerris also stated that changes to Siri would be coming in a few weeks.
Despite the backlash that Apple has faced over this issue, including a petition with 20,000 signatures delivered directly to Tim Cook by NARAL (an outspoken pro-choice organization), the issue may not be quite what it seems.
TUAW’s Chris Rawson investigated the claim that Siri has a pro-life bias, and found no merit whatsoever in the claims, as Siri simply returns results from search engines (without moderating them).
Rawson found that the problem lies with the limited search database Siri uses for specific searches like “abortion clinic” or “birth control” rather than any bias on Siri’s part. He also pointed out that Siri does successfully return results for Planned Parenthood, casting doubt on any claims of a possible bias.
In the end, Siri is just a front end for a number of search engines, none of which Apple owns or controls. This is just another example of flawed logic, jumpy activists and poor reporting sensationalizing a story to create a problem that really doesn’t exist at all.