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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smartphone May Be Kind of Dumb

Anytime a new Apple product comes out, people line up, ooh and ahh, and then start tearing it apart. Most recently, Siri, the “virtual assistant” on the iPhone 4, has come under attack for having some pretty significant health-related knowledge gaps. Although Siri can tell you where to find the best sushi in your neighborhood or the closest dog park, it doesn’t have a clue where you can buy birth control. This cluelessness is even more baffling when you realize that Siri has no trouble telling users where they can buy Viagra. Apparently it can also direct users to rather unsavory (and illegal) services, but doesn’t know what to tell someone who’s just been sexually assaulted (instead of directing them to the police or hospital, Siri provides long-term crisis-management referrals.)

Now, I don’t know how this happened—Apple is claiming it was a glitch—but I do know that if you’re going to call something a “smartphone,” maybe it’s best to focus less on giving it a sassy personality and more on making sure it’s got basic information on it, especially basic health information. Apple’s an amazing company that’s changed many of our lives and the way we play and communicate, but as many people have pointed out, this is something that really should be addressed. Siri is still technically being tested out, and after all the publicity Apple’s gotten recently, they’re surely scrambling to iron out this particular kink. Hopefully, they’ll be a bit more careful in the future.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you experienced Siri firsthand? What do you think of the feature? Any knowledge gaps you think are problematic?

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 4:15 pm

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