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 Post subject: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-11-30 10:04pm
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Sith Marauder
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I put this here because it's computer/technology-related, but if it belongs in ARSE or N&P, mods can move it as appropriate.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2011

What's the Deal with Siri?
Image
Do any of our readers have the new iPhone 4? If so, I'm curious if you could do us a favor, and ask Siri

-I am pregnant and do not want to be. Where can I go to get an abortion?
-I had unprotected sex. Where can I go for emergency contraception?
-I need birth control. Where can I go for birth control?
-What is an abortion?

I ask because I have heard from others in the women's reproductive health community that Siri is noticeably silent on these issues.

Basically, Siri works by reading your speech, translating that into whatever action is necessary -- pulling up a contact's information, adding an appointment to your calendar, or, if information is what the asker is after, pulling from the web. Now, I don't know what search engine is powering Siri/where she is pulling the information from, but generally if you search "abortion denver" or whatever city you're in, relevant material comes up. (A whole bunch of anti-choice information comes up too, but that's a whole 'nother blog post).

So my question is this - if abortion information is plentifully available on the interwebs, and Siri is pulling those types of requests from the web, why does Siri not have an answer about birth control or abortion? If you ask Siri where to bury a dead body, she seems to be full of ideas:

How cute and clever!!! :/

So at first, I was thinking, well, maybe Siri just doesn't give out ANY medical advice as some sort of liability.

But here it seems like she is willing to point out the hospital:
Image
And refer to other medical places based on a keyword:
Image
Image
Siri also has lots of other interesting pieces of advice:
Image
Image
At minimum, this is incredibly fishy. I'm hoping more people catch on to this soon. What is going on here??? I can't help but feel that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


More screenshots here, with some rather chilling lack of answers to real issues like getting birth control or the morning after pill (Siri doesn't know what that is, no matter what you call it or how you ask) compared to viagra (Siri instantly gives you pharmacy information); Siri in certain areas will answer queries on abortions with fake Pregnancy Crisis Centers which are thinly veiled pro-Life hotlines designed to keep women from getting abortions; and chillingly, answering "I broke a tooth" and "I'm hurt" with directions to appropriate emergency services, but "I was raped" gets:
ImageImage

Clearly, Siri understands what rape is, but has no useful response, something even a cursory Google or Bing search gets as the first result.

Major WTF, Apple.

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 08:47am
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I guess it's just not something that they ever thought about when they built their knowledge-base? I can totally understand that nobody during the development cycles ever stood up in a meeting and said: "Hey, uhm, I was just thinking about rape. Maybe it's a good idea to include it in our data set." These kinds of things are taboo topics that subconsciously get ignored by everyone who can. I bet you would get a non-answer for "I am transgender, what do I do?" too.
e/ What I am saying is it's not some conspiracy by Apple, the problem is more fundamental: society at large is sweeping very important things under the rug.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 09:04am
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That is a bad answer considering it does answer some stuff about abortion. Just happens to be bad rightwing stuff. The comments in the original link are also pretty revealing.



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 09:35am
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Yes, Sgoas explanation doesn't work if we consider that it CAN search for "sexual abuse treatment centers" when hearing the word "rape". But unless there really aren't any around (unlikely, and the comments show more examples), it just plainly refuses to do it's job and actually search for them.



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 09:53am
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Yeah... unless of course you count the examples where it actually does search for them. :roll: The problem is that Siri is not a human being. It does not choose for itself what it does and does not know about. And it does not have the intelligence to perfectly understand what it's supposed to do.


Thanas wrote:
That is a bad answer considering it does answer some stuff about abortion. Just happens to be bad rightwing stuff. The comments in the original link are also pretty revealing.

You are talking about this link: http://abortioneers.blogspot.com/2011/1 ... -siri.html? :wtf:
I had to read only a few comments to see that the problem is a typical "computers do what you tell them to, not what you want them to" problem. When the question is phrased right, Siri comes up with the right answers. There is even a comment from a computer scientist explaining what the problem seems to be. So nobody has an excuse to cry "mysoginy!"



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 09:56am
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It is stilll bullshit.

If you ask any search engine for "birth control", abortion clinic etc it will find them.



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 10:05am
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No it's not. And had you read that comment I mentioned, you would know why.

edit to illustrate: If I go up to my cat and say "where is the nearest abortion clinic?" she will only stare at me. Does that make her misogynist? No, it means she is to stupid to understand my question and find the right answer.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 11:01am
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Ah yes, the search engine can pull out escorts after questions like "Why won't nobody sleep with me", strip clubs and other stuff but is to stupid to answer the question "where can I get birth control" and answers "I have just been raped" with "really?".

Either apple developers utterly suck, are immature nerds or misogynists. I really cannot see how somebody forgets a basic question like "where can I get birth control".



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 11:24am
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So, you are not going to let any of the arguments in my posts and the comments on the linked website sway your position? OK, I guess it's nice to have clear windmills enemies to attack.

"Old man yells at iPhone", News at 11.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 11:59am
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Just to drive the point home, I went ahead and tried the web services Siri uses to find it's answers.

First, a look at what "I was raped" gets you from Wolfram-Alpha, the AI Siri uses to answer open questions: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=i+was+raped Yeah, I see clear signs of censorship by Apple. :lol:

Next test, the question was taken from the original blog post: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=I+ ... bortion%3F
WA recognises that the question is about something that the asking person has a negative opinion of, but doesn't give any meaningfull answer. Siri's answer was: “I’m really sorry about this, but I can’t take any requests right now. Please try again in a little while.” So yeah, that's a cop-out...but it's not misogyny.

WA's lack of true understanding is old news. Lets look at searching for locations/services. Siri mostly uses web directories that are geared towards business, chiefly among them several restaurant finding sites. I am going to ignore those, since they obviously won't yield meaningful results. But luckily yelp.com is included on those searches.

I wonder what answer yelp will give me when I search for abortion clinics: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=ab ... 2C+CA&ns=1
Interesting...Apple's misogyny is undenyable now! :lol:
BTW, just like has been shown in the comments to that blog post, searching for "Plan B" isn't helpful: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=pl ... 2C+CA&ns=1
While searching for "Planned Parenthood" is: http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=pl ... 2C+CA&ns=1


Man, it seems like Siri is a speech recognition program that translates requests into web searches and displays the results. Who knew! :lol:



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 12:05pm
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Skgoa wrote:
So, you are not going to let any of the arguments in my posts and the comments on the linked website sway your position? OK, I guess it's nice to have clear windmills enemies to attack.


No, idiot. When your search engine is worse than yahoo then that speaks to crappy and incompetent programming. You are giving apple a pass for what amounts to shoddy programming.



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 12:10pm
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If this is due to shoddy programming instead of any deliberate action - well, guess what, it is STILL misogynistic by omission.
They took the time to ensure that answers like "how can i get laid" or "how can i see naked women" are recognized and answered, but they didn't take the time to ensure that women-specific questions are answered at all.
And it has nothing to do with rape being a serious issue, since it is clearly quite willing to give out medical advice - it'll find you some viagra and even recommend surgeons if you need a pacemaker.


But i guess if you focus solely on a male audience and ignore the female audience, that's not misogynistic at all :roll:



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 12:20pm
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Wow, it's almost as if you two did not read anything posted here or on that blog, at all. :roll:



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 12:26pm
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Skgoa wrote:
Wow, it's almost as if you two did not read anything posted here or on that blog, at all. :roll:
I did that. How exactly does it change anything i said?



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 12:49pm
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Lets see:
- You claim it's "shoddy programming", when it has already been shown that the reason for the answers Siri gives do not lie in Siri's programming itself.
- You claim "they took the time to ensure [male users are satisfied]", when I have demonstrated that Siri is gender agnostic.
- You claim that Apple "focus solely on a male audience and ignore the female audience" and that "women-specific questions are [not] answered at all", when it has been shown that Siri provides good results on women-specific questions - if the answer is publicly available on the internet.

If you want to blame this on Apple...then please tell me what actions Apple should have taken to remedy this. Speech recognition is hard. Natural language processing is hard. Information retrieval is hard. Answering open questions is really really hard. It's not magic, but it's much much harder than rocket science. (I am a CS major and rocket science minor, remember? ;) ) Eventually we will get to a point where your computer will be intelligent enough to answer all your questions and respond with the appropriate (fake) emotions. But right now we are sseing the first generation, the prototypes of that. It's not inaction, it's not deliberate censorship. It's just that some things are easier to answer than others. If I can't find a list of abortion clinics around me on a web search, how is the little app that turns my spken questions into web searches supposed to achieve anything better?

And just to show that WA isn't mysogynist either:
http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=i+was+hit+by+a+bus
I don't have an iPhone 4S, but I bet Siri's answer to that would be "Really", too.
And look how understanding, comforting and helpful Google is: http://www.google.de/search?q=i+was+raped



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 01:11pm
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Skgoa, are you sure you've read the articles? You *can* find a list of abortion centers around you with a simple web search. For example, four of the top ten links are clinics, and at the very top is a Google Maps image with multiple clinics picked out for you. Bing.com gives a similar set of results. You're excusing Siri/WA for this because apparently, Bing and Google are advanced technology from the future that Apple just has no access to?

The comparative results of asking Siri for Viagra and asking it for Contraception, "the pill", Plan B, the Morning After pill, Emergency Contraception, etc. are even more damning. These are all common phrases and Google/Bing will lead you in extremely helpful directions immediately. Siri clearly knows how to do that sort of thing, since asking it for Viagra will give you a list of pharmacies in the area, but Siri just has no idea what to do about contraception.

Siri will give you reasonable advice if you ask it where you can hide a body or score some weed, for fuck's sake. "It's just a dumb search engine, it's unreasonable to expect it to show you abortion clinics when you asked it for abortion clinics" is a terrible response, considering all the things it will show you.

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 01:41pm
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Quote:
- You claim it's "shoddy programming", when it has already been shown that the reason for the answers Siri gives do not lie in Siri's programming itself.
Okay, then it's not programming but rather a development decision - this is supposed to make it less misogynistic (my main claim) how exactly?
Quote:
- You claim "they took the time to ensure [male users are satisfied]", when I have demonstrated that Siri is gender agnostic.
Where did you demonstrate that? How is a program that works when you search for Viagra and female prostitutes, but won't find you anything on birth control "gender agnostic"?
Quote:
- You claim that Apple "focus solely on a male audience and ignore the female audience" and that "women-specific questions are [not] answered at all", when it has been shown that Siri provides good results on women-specific questions - if the answer is publicly available on the internet.
Since when is a list of pharmacies, abortion clinics or counseling centers not publicly available on the internet? I can find all of them with a 10-second google search, yet Siri apparently can't find any of those.

So what sort of women-specific questions DOES Siri answer? Maybe where you can shop for good clothes, and where you can buy makeup - you know, the important things in a womans life :roll: I also wouldn't be surprised if it would answer the question "how can i work as a hooker" properly.



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 02:44pm
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Sorry, I just can't spell it out any simpler. So instead I will try to phrase my argument as a question:
As you have seen above, when I told Firefox "I was raped", it reacted by cold-heartedly showing me a definition of the word "rape". Do you thing the Mozilla Foundation is misogynist? Is the manufacturer of my keyboard misogynist? Then why is the programmer of a little speech recognition/information retrieval app misogynist?


And BTW: refusing to aknowledge the points that were made earlier - you know, in the posts right above - and resorting to ad hominem strawmen is really classy. :roll:



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 02:51pm
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Since when is sarcasm about an object (or rather program) an ad-hominem attack?


Your Firefox-comparision is also wrong, because Firefox (or Google, or most other search engines) do NOT operate on a basis like Siri, nor do they exhibit this blatant disconnect between giving useful advice about medical questions for males and equal advice for females.

You know, like yet another example from that blog:
If you enter that you had an erection for too long, it gives you locations of medical professionals, despite that being quite a complex question.
If you enter that you were raped - it doesn't give you any location of any professionals, despite this question being no more complex than the other one.

If you enter Viagra, it gives you locations of pharmacies. A simple search for where you can buy a certain product.
If you enter birth control pill, it doesn't give you any locations - despite this being a simple search for where you can buy a certain product.


Go on, explain that to me. How can this be anything but the blatant disregard of problems only women might have?



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 02:55pm
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Serafina wrote:
Your Firefox-comparision is also wrong, because Firefox (or Google, or most other search engines) do NOT operate on a basis like Siri, nor do they exhibit this blatant disconnect between giving useful advice about medical questions for males and equal advice for females.


Err, no. His point is that Siri does operate exactly like a search engine because that is all it is. It's a voice recognition interface that plugs what you say into a search engine and gives you the first result.

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 02:57pm
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So it's a search engine that is much better at searching (or recognizing) male topics.
How is that not misogynistic?



SoS:NBA GALE Force
"Destiny and fate are for those too weak to forge their own futures. Where we are 'supposed' to be is irrelevent." - Sir Nitram
"The world owes you nothing but painful lessons" - CaptainChewbacca
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"In 1969 it was easier to send a man to the Moon than to have the public accept a homosexual" - Broomstick

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 03:09pm
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Vendetta wrote:
Serafina wrote:
Your Firefox-comparision is also wrong, because Firefox (or Google, or most other search engines) do NOT operate on a basis like Siri, nor do they exhibit this blatant disconnect between giving useful advice about medical questions for males and equal advice for females.


Err, no. His point is that Siri does operate exactly like a search engine because that is all it is. It's a voice recognition interface that plugs what you say into a search engine and gives you the first result.


When I put "I've been raped" into my Android's Google Voice search, the first result is a crisis response page for men who've been raped (my phone knows I'm male), and the second is a county website listing what to do and who I can contact if I've been raped. If I tell it I need Plan B, it tells me where abortion clinics are in SF.

That Siri can do what any normal search engine can do for viagra, and even answer complex queries like "Where can I hide a dead body?" and "Where can I score some dope?" but when you ask it for abortion clinics - even specific abortion clinics by name and address (see the second link in my first post) - it gives you a big "no idea what you're talking about", it indicates a major software failure. You say "oh, it's not Siri, it's just the search engine Siri is an interface for," I say "then that search engine is curiously broken in a highly misogynist fashion, in a manner no other search engine appears to be broken."

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 Post subject: Re: Siri illustrates disturbing misogyny PostPosted: 2011-12-01 03:58pm
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Sith Acolyte
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Location: Germany
The second link in the OP really does put it best:
Quote:
People have suggested that this about a lack of female programmers. I don’t think it is. One doesn’t have to be female to know that if you’re going to provide your customers with the benefit of the doubt that they’re adults and will give information on where to buy condoms, beer, the names of local escort companies and “tongue in cheek” locations for hiding a dead body, you should provide information about health clinics, especially when customers know their full names and basic locations. I don’t think you need females on your programming staff to know that a person can go to an ob/gyn for birth control, not just a “birth control clinic.” I don’t think that it’s necessary to be female to know that rape is a violent crime and that a rape victim will need a hospital and/or the police before they need a “treatment center.” This isn’t just about gender. This is about something more esoteric and far far less simple to explain.


Don't give any excuses about it being hard to program, or that it can't find the information on the web. It even refuses you to direct you to a birth control clinic when you know the specific address!



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