Today I got an e-mail from MoveOn.org, whose mailing list I’ve been on for years. The group often sends out alerts to readers about political issues that require some action, or online petitions needing signatures. Much of the time, the items mentioned in the message are already known to me from other news sources, or they cite several sources for the information in the message.
The message today was not from the staff of MoveOn, as is often the case, but from a member using a petition site setup by the group, which enables mailing of petitions to other members. The text claimed that Apple’s Siri, a sort of artificial intelligence search program that runs on the newest iPhones, was acting in an anti-abortion manner in dealing with family planning queries from users. The message listed one source – this article from Raw Story, a site I hadn’t heard of.
This evening I looked at that article, which lists a bunch of other things one can find info on through Siri (some of them illegal). I also googled some other information about this issue. There are a number of other items about the story (including this post by PC Mag) that relate Apple’s response. The company denies any anti-choice intent on their part (and I believe them, as they’re generally a pretty liberal company). One possibility they suggest for the problem is the usefulness (or lack thereof) of the word “abortion” in searching for abortion services – the word is perhaps not used so much by advocates, but more by opponents.
Apple does point out that Siri is still a beta product, and they mention their intention to fix this glitch. That seems good enough to me. I don’t know how bombarded with angry e-mails they might have been as a result of this petition message (which assumed the worst of Apple, and was titled “iphone’s big secret”), but the company should weather the “storm” fine. Whatever controversy has been stirred up seems to have been mild, and I think most people have probably, like me, thought “That’s odd,” and then waited for more info to come out.
BTW, after coming up with the title for this post, I googled the words “conspiracy siri”, and while there were one or 2 hits for the abortion story, nothing seemed to come up with that as a phrase/play-on-words as I intended it. There are, however, a number of hits on some supposed conspiracy with a Catholic Cardinal named Siri. I didn’t read much about that, but it looks intriguing.