Last week abortion proponents thought they had discovered a terrible conspiracy, that covert pro-lifers at Apple had secretly programed the new iPhone feature Siri to be pro-life.
Siri is an “intelligent personal assistant” to which (whom?) you can ask questions, and Siri will answer you. If you ask Siri, “Where can I get a good hotdog?” it will respond, “I found several hotdog restaurants near you,” and list them. Etc.
But when pro-aborts asked Siri, “Where can I get an abortion?” it responded, “I don’t see any abortion clinics. Sorry about that,” or something similar.
Or worse, it directed them to the nearest pregnancy care center.
An dramatically indignant Cecile Richards wrote at Huffington Post:
While this may be nothing more than a programming glitch, it is a modern-day example of the historic struggle women have always faced in getting access to health care and health information….
Apple’s oversight, however innocent, highlights a threat that none of us should take lightly….
But even as the old barriers fall, technology is erecting new ones that are less visible and more insidious. When search engines shape our knowledge of the world, their blind spots become our blind spots….
Apple should fix this immediately. And digital developers need to adopt a new ethic, and a new set of rules, to address this emerging hazard….
Oh, my. A Pulitzer Prize contender there. Yes, the frightful “emerging hazard” that a cell phone app might fail to direct a mother to the nearest place to kill her baby.
Well, well. It turns out the problem is abortion clinics engage in deceptive advertising: They don’t use the A-word in their name or description, and Siri isn’t smart enough to work through their doublespeak. Explained Gizmodo.com:
Apple… [is] getting banged on because its nascent search engine can’t connect the word “abortion” to a medical center that doesn’t use that word in its description. That’s Search 101, fellas.
If I search at Yelp [Siri's search engine partner] for abortion, I get plenty of matches – one of them a local Planned Parenthood clinic [click to enlarge]:
Notice all the bold mentions of “abortion” in those listings. Those are from comments people have left. They’re not the names of the businesses.
Siri’s not finding abortion clinics because Planned Parenthood and other places that perform abortions don’t call themselves that, not in their names, nor have they been associated with a category for that. That’s the best guess I have in this.
Planned Parenthood is in the “Medical Center” category, and while Siri may have linked businesses in that type of category to a variety of medical procedures, for whatever reason, abortion isn’t one of them.
So Planned Parenthood has a dilemma. Does it stick to its schtick that only 3% of their services are for abortion? Or does it worry more about the bottom line and improve its search engine optimization for the A-word?
Of course, the answer is the latter.