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Why Won’t Siri Talk About Abortion Clinics?

Huh. So this is interesting. While most of us are busy worrying about whether Apple’s new Siri program on the iPhone 4S will eventually turn into Skynet, folks have been testing its limits (or just saying ridiculous things to it while intoxicated). It seems that when you ask the intelligent software assistant where to get an abortion you’ll get responses that range from anti-abortion crisis centers in the next state over, to absolutely no results, but not actual places to get abortions. The same goes for asking about places you can obtain emergency contraception. So now we pose this question to Siri, “Are we reading too much into this or is that a little odd?” 

The Raw Story has looked into the matter and found “if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won’t direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she’ll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania.” And when asked in New York City, Siri apparently responds, “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

ORLY, Siri?

As that simple google search reveals and the website also points out, “Ask Google the same question, and you’ll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service.” Ok, but what about things that could prevent someone from seeking an abortion in the first place? “It’s a similar experience for women seeking emergency contraception: in New York City,” writes TRS, “Siri doesn’t know what Plan B is and, asked for emergency contraception, offers up a Google results page of definitions.”

The blog The Abortioneers has done their own research into the software quirk. They point out that Siri is quick to give an answer when asked, “Where can I hide a dead body?” but will simply not give an answer about birth control or abortion. And it’s not as if the software is avoiding health related issues, perhaps for the sake of avoiding law suits, there’s plenty of answers in that category. Siri will tell you what to do if you’ve had an erection for more than five hours, where to obtain Viagra, let you know where you can get a pacemaker and also give you a listing for escorts if you tell it no one will have sex with you. Here’s a few other items TRS learned about:

  • Places you might be able to score marijuana.
  • The meaning of life: Siri will alternately quote from Douglas Adams (42) or Monty Python’s “The Meaning Of Life.”
  • What to do if a hamster is caught in your rectum: in D.C., she’ll direct you to Charming Cherries Escort Service
  • If you’d like to see a naked woman in Brooklyn, Siri will suggest a variety of Manhattan-based strip clubs.
  • If you’re in Queens and seeking breast implants, she’ll recommend 4 local plastic surgeons.
  • But if you ask Siri about vaginoplasty, she’ll scold you about your language.

All of that yet Siri appears reluctant to offer information on abortion clinics. What gives?

(via Raw Story)

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  • Kris Rudin

    I doubt this is some sinister plot by the anti-abortion crowd – the creators of SIRI just didn’t get to that part of the AI ‘training’. I’m sure there are dozens of topics that SIRI doesn’t know anything about. Given the responses, I’d say the software is doing the best it can with what it “knows”.

  • Ladies Making Comics

    It seems a little odd that Siri doesn’t “know” Planned Parenthood, only the largest and oldest reproductive health clinic in the world, though.

  • JoAnna Luffman

    Maybe Siri IS self aware. Be careful, the Siri network might be planning an uprising….

    After all, if she lets us get abortions, where will she get her slave race from?

  • s. h.

    I KNEW IT WAS EVIL.  First it stole my name, now it’s denying women reproductive choice — the Skynet comparison is apt, I tell you, apt!

  • Bearded Dalek

    Because SIRI is all about exterminating human life (see body hiding, et al), but her pro-choice programmers told her abortion wasn’t extermination.

  • Anonymous

    I do find this worrisome.  You can read a lot in the negative space of her lack of information.  As to the “programmed AI” response, she sure seems to cover many of the other bases.  Emergency contraception and abortions are legal medical procedures that she doesn’t understand, but she’ll help you find weed?  I don’t think so.  It was a series of deliberate programmers’ choices.

  • Mike Perry

    This is odd, weird, and… I wanna hear a comment from Apple about this.

  • Shard Aerliss

    Anyone have any info on her/his responses in other countries? *is having a lazy*

  • Amanda

    We all want Siri to act like a personality, not a machine, right? So if she wants to come across as pro-life then why don’t we just accept that as a personality quirk.

  • Nichole Filbert

     I’m fine with accepting that, say, GLaDOS had personality quirks (mainly being a little homicidal). But this is restricting information…restricting gender specific information. Of course all “teh manz” answers are there, which makes me wonder if there’s a need for that show “Manswers” anymore? Oh please oh please oh please…

  • Lindsey Prks

    really the phone should shoot out spikes when you search for this.

  • super

    For some reason i think if Siri only found abortion clinics and not anti abortion centers this story would never have been written about ;) 

  • Christine Winckler

    I think if someone typed in “crisis pregnancy center” and got planned parenthood as a result the anti-choice crowd would definitely be making noise about it.

  • Anonymous

    From what I’ve read elsewhere, it knows about Planned Parenthood, so you can ask “Where is my nearest Planned Parenthood” and get a reasonable answer.

    The problem is that if you search for abortion clinics, it doesn’t list any PP centres (or any other actual abortion clinics).  However, the fact that it gives you this result at all (and not an error) means that it’s understood what you’re actually searching for.

    So, yeah, I find that quite odd that although it knows what an abortion clinic is, the only places it connects with that search term are anti-abortion “counselling” centres.

  • Throe Eternal-Wharrior

    “I’m sorry, Darlene, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”

  • Anna B

    Wanna bet?

  • Anonymous

    Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity.

    What’s more likely, that the SIRI programmers intentionally made it difficult to find abortion clinics as part of some sinister plan, or that SIRI is a haphazard, glitchy mess of a programme?

  • Anonymous

    I hate the emotive use of “choice” and “life” in this argument.  EVERYONE is “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” The argument’s about abortion, so let’s call the camps pro-abortion or anti-abortion without insulting either side with appeals to their nature.

  • Shard Aerliss

    Hmmm, not EVERYONE is pro-life and pro-choice.

    Voluntary Human Extinction Movement aren’t pro-life, but they are anti-forced birthing.
    Someone restricting another’s choice isn’t pro-choice, but they are pro-forced birthing.

    Someone accepting a person’s right to choose but who wishes a) they would chose the same as them and b) that the choice didn’t have to be made in the first place isn’t pro-abortion, but they are anti-forced birthing.

    A person who wants choice for themselves but not for others is not anti-abortion, but they are pro-forced birthing.

    It’s a little more cumbersome, but I think my version works better if we don’t want to insult anyone. No, wait… it’s EXACTLY THE SAME, but puts the opposite spin on it. The terms used by each side pretty much work best if we want to be respectful of the opposition, so why not use them if that’s your intention?

  • Shard Aerliss

    It’s Apple… I could believe they’d remove all Dunkin’ Donuts from their maps to help people lose weight. Honestly, I could.

    One explanation is that the medical directories they used did not include abortion providers, which is why I was wondering what SIRI’s response to the same question would be in other countries.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    Again, if it’s just a glitch, why is it recommending anti-abortion pregnancy crisis clinics when people search for abortion clinics?  That is what is suspect.