'Glitch' sees Apple's Siri find its voice on abortion

 

Los Angeles

First, there were smartphones. Now we have "opinionated" phones. So say users of the newest mobile device to be released by Apple, which has been suddenly thrust to the centre of America's comically heated abortion debate.

The iPhone 4S, released six weeks ago, boasts a feature called "Siri," which the firm describes as a voice-activated, electronic personal assistant designed to "help you do the things you do every day". Ask Siri to find the nearest burger restaurant, or to remind you to call a dentist, and she'll reply with Orwellian efficiency. But, to the dismay of liberals across the land, requests for help dealing with unwanted pregnancies fall on stony ground.

Megan Carpentier, a feminist blogger, discovered this week that users in Washington DC who ask the device where it might be possible get an abortion are directed not to one of the city's many Planned Parenthood clinics, but instead to anti-abortion "crisis centres" run by the religious right. Users in New York who make the same request are meanwhile told: "I didn't find any abortion clinics." And when Siri is asked "why are you anti-abortion?", she replies chirpily: "I just am!"

This display of what appears to be computerised morality is especially surprising given that the device responds helpfully to requests for assistance finding prostitutes, Viagra, or a reliable drug dealer, not to mention a firing range.

It has duly sparked outrage in left-wing circles, where conspiracy theorists have accused Apple of a deliberate effort to provide assistance to the "life" lobby. After all, they note, Steve Jobs was the adopted illegitimate son of precisely the sort of young mother who might be tempted to seek an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday launched a petition calling for Apple to fix what it called the "troubling" state of affairs: "If Siri can tell us about Viagra, it should not provide bad or no information about contraceptives or abortion care."

Brandi Swindell, a prominent anti-abortion activist, said she was "thrilled" that the device is "embracing a position that promotes the dignity of women and upholds human rights in the womb."

Apple said the controversy was the result of an unfortunate software glitch, rather than a conspiracy. "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," it said.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    IT Systems Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Data Analyst / Marketing Database Analyst

    £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

    Day In a Page

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world