Siri’s Not Pro-Life. She’s Just a Crappy Doctor

Apple's "intelligent personal assistant" doesn't have opinions on abortions, bunions, prostate cancer or broken bones

You guys know Siri, right? She’s the lady who lives inside the new iPhones and can tell you anything you want to know. Well, sort of.

Siri’s very helpful. When we were wandering around Center City in search of post-happy hour dinner, Siri suggested nearby restaurants. I asked her where I could have the broken zipper on my jeans mended and she provided a list of local tailors.

She’s not perfect, though. Last week, a bunch of people got themselves into a pro-choice tizzy because Siri does not recommend abortion clinics. Joyce C. Tang at the Daily Beast notes, “For those who might write off Siri as simply demure in general, she seems to have no trouble weighing in on other touchy subjects, like Viagra, escorts, and marijuana.”

Tang is right. Last weekend, my boyfriend was tickled to show off how Siri responds if you ask her where to hide a body. “What kind of place are you looking for? Swamps, reservoirs, dumps, mines or metal foundries?” Siri happily chirps. (In case you’re wondering, there’s a metal foundry 83 miles from my home.)

It’s easy to see how people could get the wrong ideas about Siri’s ideology. Dead bodies? Totally cool. Dead fetuses? Not so cool.

But before we condemn the pre-programmed robot lady—and the folks at notoriously squeaky-clean Apple who programmed her—for anti-feminist views, let’s take a look at some other things Siri doesn’t understand:

When I asked Siri where I could get a Pap smear nearby, she didn’t understand. She was similarly confused when I asked her where I could get a mammogram, a colonoscopy and a prostate exam. Also, when I told her I had a broken hand, she asked for an email address instead of recommending hospitals or doctors. When I asked for advice for my bunion, she responded, “I don’t know what you mean by Bunyon. [sic]” After wondering who could fix my toothache, Siri asked me to provide a contact name. She’s not pro-life. She’s just not a very good medical professional.

Siri doesn’t know how to correlate the names of specific medical procedures to nearby results. Ask Siri where the nearest Planned Parenthood is and she instantaneously provides addresses. She also suggested 16 gynecologists in my area. Ask her for an emergency dentist and she serves up search results within seconds.

Apple released a statement confirming that they aren’t trying to force conservatives views down the throats of iPhone users. “Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information, and while it can find a lot, it doesn’t always find what you want … These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that 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.”

So maybe one day, Siri will be able to tell me where to get an abortion or a prostate exam. But in the meantime, at least I know who to turn to if somebody really pisses me off.