Oh, Siri, You Uptight Prude: The Speed Of Rage

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 16.884% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So Siri, the iPhone’s voice-recognition search engine, is anti-choice.  Asking it to find an abortion clinic finds nothing, showing that Apple has baked in a pro-life bias right into the iPhone.
…or maybe this displays another bias built right into the Internet.
See, as it turns out, searching for abortion clinics via a sketchy search engine just doesn’t produce consistent results, partially because Planned Parenthood doesn’t advertise “ABORTIONS: BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE!” on the front page of their website, and partially because, well, Siri’s searching is mightily impressive in some ways but really quite lacking in many other ways.  And it’s not like, you know, Apple products haven’t ever been lacking in their first-generation incarnations.
The “scandal,” however, highlights the problems with people on the goddamned Internet.
First off, what happens with every Internet blow-up is that people know the reasons why.  Could it be that abortion clinics don’t usually tend to use the word “abortion” prominently when describing their services, and that Siri might overlook it?  Could it be that Siri has a lot of problems with a lot of searches, and that abortion is merely one of many things it’s bad at finding this early on?
Of course not.  SIRI HAS BEEN SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO FILTER OUT ABORTION RIGHTS AND CONTRACEPTIVES.  Which means, of course, that Apple are a bunch of right-wing Nazis who’ve set out to purposely knock the knees out from women’s power by rendering them helpless to find the very tools that would give them power over their own bodies.  Because, you know how Apple is just seething with Rush Limbaugh fans.
But that’s what happens on the net: one person jumps to a large conclusion, and another person reads their Tweet and retweets it, and next thing you know it’s “APPLE WANTS TO FORCE-BREED ALL WOMEN, FILM AT 11.”
The second problem here?  The arrogance with which people demand an answer.  The Internet is a big place, and there are a lot of things, but there’s this expectation that Apple should be a quivering tuning fork eagerly combing every reference to them like some egotistic movie star, waiting to respond to every conspiracy theory, no matter how crazy.  I saw Tweets within 48 hours decrying that APPLE HASN’T RESPONDED, THIS PROVES THEY’RE PRO-LIFERS AT HEART TRYING TO CONCEAL THE TRUTH.
Well, no, pal, it may just be that your cries haven’t reached critical mass yet…. Or that they have heard, but they have to talk to the Siri team to figure out what the problem is so that they can respond accurately, and as it turns out gathering correct information may not be doable at your whim.
(And yes, maybe Apple does need to hire a bunch of people to monitor for crazy-ass conspiracy brushfires starting up, just because it looks bad if they take, oh, a weekend to formulate an answer.  But anyone who’s worked in retail will tell you that customers are often greedy dumbasses who get bent out of shape over the most moronic things, and yes you try to satisfy them… But that doesn’t mean they’re not touchy douchebags who would make the world better by being decent human beings.)
Then there’s the third problem, which is WHY ISN’T APPLE TELLING US THE INTIMATE DETAILS OF SIRI?  IF THEY ONLY OPENED UP THEIR SOURCE CODE TO US, WE’D KNOW THE TRUTH.  WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO HIDE?  Oh, I can’t see a reason in the world why Apple might not want to explain the intimate workings of their #1 new feature.  It’s certainly not like Google or Bing or all the other phone manufacturers in the world would be eager to find what Apple is doing right and try to steal it in a heartbeat.  But no, the fact that they have not produced a 20-page PDF with diagrams to explain how this accident happens, instead marking it off quite legitimately as a bug they hope to improve, is proof that Apple are secretive and awful.
Dude.  You’re kind of awful.  I dig that this sort of herd mentality is going to crop up from time to time, but instantly assuming the worst possible motivations and then demanding a full explanation instantly approaches insanity.  It’s a literal shit-storm, a tornado of outrage that’s kicked up out of someone noticing something weird, and it just makes it harder to be civil or rational, and more importantly if we have this level of furor over everything then it’s harder to sort out the genuine problems.  Of which there are, you know, many.
I’m not saying not to investigate.  But allow for other options, like, “I dunno, man, does anyone have any problems with other drugs or other types of businesses?” that would let people come to saner conclusions.  Don’t let Apple off the hook, but do recognize that if someone collared you on the street out of the blue and roared, “SO WHY HAVE YOU NOT ANSWERED MY QUESTION ON THAT RACIST SHIRT OF YOURS?” you might not only be stunned by the question, but might have to take a while to not just ask what the fuck is happening and see why people think your shirt is insulting, then carefully formulate a proper answer on why your plaid shirt is causing an uproar rather than aggravate this angry guy even further.
The problem is that the Internet puts people in such close proximity with the things they love, they come to believe that everything has become a tool of theirs, existing only to provide them with answers on their schedule.  And it’s good to realize that hey, maybe they’re human, maybe there are some genuine screw-ups here, let’s try to give the benefit of the doubt before lowering that rage-hammer.

1 Comment

  1. Nope
    Dec 28, 2011

    Dude, you need xanax. You are an unintelligent peon with a worthless opinion. Go die.
    Also, The internet hates you.

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