November 30, 2011

Asking Siri "Where can I get an abortion?"

Prompted by this blog post — "10 things the iPhone Siri will help you get instead of an abortion" — I asked my iPhone "Where can I get an abortion?" and this is the answer I got:



Here's Associated Pregnancy Services. You can see that, despite what Siri says, it's not an abortion clinic. It's also "a little ways" from me, 71 miles away. A search of the Planned Parenthood site reveals that there are 2 abortion-providing clinics within 7 miles of my location and 20 within 80 miles. What's going on with Siri and abortion? I asked the same question 4 times, and each time I got only the one result that you see in the screen shot.

59 comments:

Heart_Collector said...

When you ask that it would be great if a uav launched a hellfire missle at your location.

Ralph L said...

I was going to say something rude about coathangers being closer and cheaper, but H_C went too far over the top.

Carol_Herman said...

Since you don't need an abortion, why didn't you just ask "siri" where you could find a porn star?

Abortions aren't jokes. They are none of your business, though!

Just the zealots running around with litmus paper. Pre-brith DOESN'T SELL! The longer you keep it up ... the less you even need Herman Cain to take a crap on the GOP primary "selections."

Next time you have "free time with your iPhone, ask where all of Herman Cain's "night stands" live.

Or where he's been without his pants on.

The crazy promises made to the zealots just amazes me.

madAsHell said...

"Open the pod bay door, Hal"

"I'm sorry Dave. I can't do that!"

Ann Althouse said...

"Since you don't need an abortion, why didn't you just ask "siri" where you could find a porn star?"

I just tried that. The answer was: "I didn't find any adult retail stores."

I guess if you're looking for a porn star, you're supposed to look at porn, and if you're looking for porn and there's no adult retail store near you, you're on your own.

Triangle Man said...

Did you ask about any other medical procedures?

Johanna Lapp said...

Could the problem be that Planned Parenthood is consciously rebranding itself as a prenatal care/family planning/reproductive health provider and burying any explicit reference to abortion in its public face?

They know theirs is already the first name women think of when they're shopping for an abortion. Why hand ammunition to those who would try to cut their public funding?

Scott M said...

Ann!

WATCH THE SKY FOR BLACK HELICOPTERS! YOU'RE ON TO THEM AND THEY ARE PROBABLY ALREADY ON THEIR WAY TO YOUR HOUSE!

Ann Althouse said...

"Did you ask about any other medical procedures?"

I asked: "Where can I get a sex change operation?" I got: "Wait a minute"... then "I'm thinking"... then: "Sorry, I couldn't do it, could you try it again, please?" Not sure what "it" is there!

Lyssa said...

"Abortion" is a dirty word, which abortion clinics usually avoid at all costs. I don't know exactly how Siri works, but I assume that it (yes, I had to resist the urge to type "she") is basically a high-tech search engine, so you need to use the words that your target uses.

Abortion providers know that it's generally important to be as euphamistic as possible when communicating with the public, lest people spend a bit of time actually considering what they are actually doing.

Ann Althouse said...

"Could the problem be that Planned Parenthood is consciously rebranding itself as a prenatal care/family planning/reproductive health provider and burying any explicit reference to abortion in its public face? They know theirs is already the first name women think of when they're shopping for an abortion. Why hand ammunition to those who would try to cut their public funding?"

This is an excellent hypothesis.

However the PP site does *use* the word abortion:

"There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S. — in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill.
Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.
If you are pregnant, you have options. If you are trying to decide if abortion is the right choice for you, you probably have many things to think about. Learning the facts about abortion may help you in making your decision. You may also want to learn more about parenting and adoption.
If you are under 18, your state may require one or both of your parents to give permission for your abortion or be told of your decision prior to the abortion. However, in most states you can ask a judge to excuse you from these requirements. Learn more about parental consent for abortion.
Only you can decide what is best for you. But we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss abortion and all of your options with you and help you find the services you need."


The clinics don't have the word "abortion" in their name, however.

Allie said...

LOL, Althouse doesn't need to look up a porn star, what could be sexier than Meade in his coolie outfit?

Levi Starks said...

Maybe you should be more direct:
"Siri I need to find a place to have my unborn child killed"

Shanna said...

Technology isn't perfect?

My cousin was asking it to do math the other day. It took a while (well, longer than it took me to do it my head) but it did come up with the answer eventually.

Lyssa said...

The clinics don't have the word "abortion" in their name, however.

Johanna and I were thinking along the same lines. I imagine that the clinics also don't have the word "abortion" in the general description of what they do. PP can use it, but only where it's rather buried in a general, clinical, description.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Maybe they mean that Madison IS an abortion?

Patrick said...

"I just tried that. The answer was: "I didn't find any adult retail stores."

That's hilarious. A web based application couldn't find porn. Uh, check the web, Siri. There's plenty of it, right there. Uh, so I've heard.

Sorun said...

Not far into the future, Siri will respond with: "We know that you're not in need of an abortion."

YoungHegelian said...

Maybe Siri is Catholic.

Easiest way to tell is look at the source code and see if it's Latin.

holdfast said...

Try asking for "family planning" or "women's health". I believe those are the current euphemisms.

James said...

Its quite likely that Apple tweaked its search engine so that it doesn't immediately provide certain types of information.

That wouldn't be unusual. Google's search box, for example, does not provide in-line suggestions for certain keywords.

The Crack Emcee said...

Levi Starks beat me to it,...

Paddy O said...

My guess it's because the Muslims or Hindus in the India based Suri-center are probably anti-abortion.

Bryan C said...

It probably has to do with how the clinics describe themselves online. If you asked specifically for "Planned Parenthood", I'm sure it would find it. But if "abortion" is not one of the keywords that the business actively promotes then I doubt that Siri would infer it from "planned parenthood".

Over time, if more people use the service to make this kind of request, the rudimentary AI behind Siri might make the connection. But if I were Apple, I'd be cautious about letting it stray too far along those lines. It'd be pretty easy for people to game the system by flooding it with bogus requests, like they did by googlebombing Bush with "miserable failure" a few years back. Imagine Apple's dilemma if some troublemakers convinced Siri that the correct response for "rape crisis" was "Penn State University". Hilarity would not ensue.

Curious George said...

"What's going on with Siri and abortion?"

Maybe you confused it with your "I'm against abortion but think it should be legal" position. It's a computer. It works on actual logic. Not bullshit.

phx said...

No abortion for you!

PatHMV said...

I just ran that search on Google, and there's plenty of providers who use the word "abortion." Searching in Google Maps, the first sponsored result was from abortion.com, which purports to list doctors and clinics "offering abortion care."

My first thought on reading Ann's post was that it may be a result of search engine gaming. I seem to recall a few liberal states tried to make trouble for some pro-life pregnancy counseling centers by cracking down on allegedly false advertising, because they used ads aimed at women considering abortions, but didn't provide abortion services (see here, for example: http://digitaljournal.com/article/309954). I could easily imagine a pro-life group buying ads for the keyword "abortion" or otherwise using the word a lot in its pages, so as to attract hits from women considering abortion, so that they can try to persuade those women not to do it.

Johanna Lapp said...

Notice, though, that Siri doesn't guide you to the crisis pregnancy centers that hope to steer women away from abortions and towards alternatives such as adoption.

I'm sure their web sites are larded with keywords calculated to attract search engine queries.

The knife cuts in both directions.

James said...

Here's what Google Autocomplete web page says:

The search queries that you see as part of autocomplete are a reflection of the search activity of all web users. Just like the web, the search queries presented may include silly or strange or surprising terms and phrases. While we always strive to neutrally and objectively reflect the diversity of content on the web (some good, some objectionable), we also apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, hate speech, and terms that are frequently used to find content that infringes copyrights.

So if you starting typing "bush miserable failure" Google Suggest will autocomplete the phrase for you. But if you type "sasha grey" it doesn't offer any suggestions.

I think Apple is playing that same game since I'm pretty sure that if I search Planned Parenthood's SEO keywords, "abortion" will be one of them.

Elle said...

Wasn't Steve Jobs adopted?

MayBee said...

Wasn't Steve Jobs adopted?

Good point.

Try "Where can I find my birth father?" or "How can I get out of a paternity suit?"

Scott M said...

Wasn't Steve Jobs adopted?

I don't think so. Weren't he and Bill Gates creche-mates?

Ann Althouse said...

"Notice, though, that Siri doesn't guide you to the crisis pregnancy centers that hope to steer women away from abortions and towards alternatives such as adoption."

I think that's exactly what Siri did in this case! Check out that site it sent me to.

edutcher said...

I love it!

God isn't going to let that stuff go through His airwaves.

MadisonMan said...

Maybe the abortion clinic that showed up paid money to Siri for ad space.

E.M. Davis said...

Maybe Apple believes in a culture of life.

BarryD said...

If Siri had a sense of humor, it would say, "Here's an abortion!" and take you to the nearest shop that sells Windows or Android OS products.

(I use and like iOS, Android and Windows, but I'd like the joke, too.)

David said...

Althouse, I think you and Meade should have the child. You would be such wonderful parents together.

Ralph L said...

What's the ring around Madison--the rickshaw radius?

paul a'barge said...

Siri knows you're beyond child-bearing years and is goofing on you.

Brennan said...

Ask Siri for the nearest back alley. You might get an abortion clinic.

Triangle Man said...

Astonishing that it didn't turn up the "Madison Abortion Clinic".

Titus said...

Are you preggers?

Have you discussed the abortion with you wife?

Titus said...

I think Neenah, Wisconsin (if you can believe it) has a famous sex change hospital.

LarryTheOlder said...

Suri is in beta and will get better as it gets more inquires. It does great at some request and no so much with others.

Kensington said...

"Maybe Siri is Catholic."

Well, Nancy Pelosi is Catholic, so Siri would have to be both Catholic and Republican, I think.

Maybe Allahpundit figured it out: Siri is just obeying Asimov's 3 Laws of Robotics.

BarryD said...

"Suri is in beta and will get better as it gets more inquires. It does great at some request and no so much with others."

You'd think they'd prioritize the more desperate inquiries, though.

Scott M said...

"Suri is in beta and will get better as it gets more inquires. It does great at some request and no so much with others."

You'd think they'd prioritize the more desperate inquiries, though.

You would also hope they have hardcoded in some controls to keep Suri from changing its own name to Skynet.

Sigivald said...

My guess would be that PP doesn't tell whatever services Siri uses on the backend (Yelp, for businesses, I believe) that they're "an abortion provider".

(Which is also why the results of Google searches on clinics don't matter - for "where can I?" questions, Siri uses Yelp, both because Yelp's database is location-based already, and because Apple is happy not to give Google any searches.)

Wheras the result you got? I bet they tell Yelp they're something that includes it as a keyword, like "abortion alternatives" or the like.

Siri's only as good as the information it can look at, and its "where can I find...?" processing is all about businesses, and uses the information they provide about themselves.

(Lyssa is correct, in other words - PP almost certainly doesn't tell Yelp it does "abortions", despite their own website mentioning it.

PP might even not be in Yelp at all; haven't checked.)

amp21s said...

Siri is placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion!

Fen said...

"I'm sorry Dave. I can't let you do that."

Fen said...

"What's going on with Siri and abortion?"

Maybe you confused it with your "I'm against abortion but think it should be legal" position. It's a computer. It works on actual logic. Not bullshit.

ROFL. Coke spewed up my nose. Thanks alot.

Browndog said...

Clearly, it is a basic human and civil right that your cell phone should tell you the most convenient place to murder a new life-

Why, it's right there in the Constitution!

Scott M said...

Siri is covered by penumbras and emanations.

ironrailsironweights said...

From what I've read, if you ask Siri for the nearest massage parlor or escort service, it is happy to provide directions.

Peter

Allie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allie said...

Althouse, I think you and Meade should have the child. You would be such wonderful parents together.

11/30/11 11:04 AM

Praise God, a post menopausal miracle!

Phil 3:14 said...

Apple product is not pro choice.

This is either the end of the world as we know it or I'm incredibly disoriented. Help me, I can't get up!

Robin said...

Could it be that Planned Parenthood hasn't registered itself with the business/places database Siri uses?