The world and its dog are drawing yet more partly speculative links between Cupertino’s Apple and the Christian religious right, with fresh allegations emerging that the marketing guff known as Siri refuses to find you an abortion clinic.
We’re not quite sure how this story came to be. Whether it was a genuine request in a moment of crisis, layered atop Apple gimmicks in a Dadaist fashion or if it was a bored hack seeing just what Siri can do is up for debate. The latest reports, though, suggest if you ask Siri to find you an abortion clinic it’ll direct you to a “crisis pregnancy centre”, also known as counselling that encourages you to see through a pregnancy.
The IB Times says sometimes Siri isn’t quite sure what abortion is. For example, asking your phone about abortion will have it respond with: “I don’t see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that” which is a rather milquetoast apology to a woman in a difficult situation.
The ultimate lesson to be learnt, as a petition from Choice.org suggests without realising, is that it’s better not to seek important medical advice from an automated gizmo. In the letter, campaigners said: “If Siri is providing information for users who require medical attention – like an erection lasting more than 4 hours… she should certainly provide accurate information about family planning services.”
Presumably including advice about painful erections was bundled in first thing, to cater to obsessed Appleholics who pop a boner at the mere mention of a passage from Jobs’ biography.
Cupertino has replied. Spokesperson Natalie Kerris said, reports IB Times, that Apple 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.” These are “not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone,” Kerris said. “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.”
Aside from admitting that Siri is an unfinished product, the assurances mean that – if you choose to – you’ll be able to find abortion clinics by speaking into your phone soon enough. Which is a victory for humanity, when you think about it.
Apple was once linked to the Christian Values Network, which, critics suggest, is the kind of right wing fundie organisation that thinks gay people choose their sexuality whe they start hacking their feet into the shape of cloven hoofs. Change.org petitioned against that, too, and eventually Apple distanced itself.
Other controversies included Apple leaving a baby-shaking simulator app available while banning James Joyce’s Ulysses.