Siri Clueless About Abortion; Apple Says It's a Technical Glitch

Siri is now available on iPad 2
Siri is now available on iPad 2

Apple released Siri, its voice-assisted artificial intelligence assistant, along with the iPhone 4S; the product has been in headlines since them and has made yet another controversial appearance.

Human rights groups have begun criticizing the voice-assisted software since it seemed unable to field requests regarding abortion clinics. Apparently when iPhone users ask Siri: Where can I get an abortion? it guides them to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. The problem is that while these are similar to counseling centers, they tend to advise women to go through with their pregnancies and not abort. On other occasions, Siri responds: I didn't find any abortion clinics.

In fact, according to reports, Siri doesn't even know what abortion is. If you were to ask: what is abortion? the answer would be: I don't see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that.

As the number of such critical reports swelled, Apple Inc. came out with a defensive statement, saying the responses from Siri were due to a technical glitch and were 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, Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said. 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. 

Choice.org has posted an e-petition on its Web site, asking Apple to make Siri able to find family planning services, including contraception and abortion care.

The petition letter read: If Siri is providing information for users who require medical attention-like an erection lasting more than 4 hours, like chest pain, like labor, then she should certainly provide accurate information about family planning services including contraception and abortion care. Additionally, she should point users to the right place when they report they have been sexually assaulted. If Siri can provide information about how to 'get rid of a body' or 'where to get an escort', she should certainly provide accurate medical information to her users. 

More than 1,000 people have signed the petition so far.

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