Siri, secretly programmed to deflect questions about feminism, instead defines the word perfectly

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Siri, secretly programmed to deflect questions about feminism, instead defines the word perfectly Empty Siri, secretly programmed to deflect questions about feminism, instead defines the word perfectly

Post by Ben Reilly on Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:40 pm

An internal project to rewrite how Apple’s Siri voice assistant handles “sensitive topics” such as feminism and the #MeToo movement advised developers to respond in one of three ways: “don’t engage”, “deflect” and finally “inform”.

The project saw Siri’s responses explicitly rewritten to ensure that the service would say it was in favour of “equality”, but never say the word feminism – even when asked direct questions about the topic.

Last updated in June 2018, the guidelines are part of a large tranche of internal documents leaked to the Guardian by a former Siri “grader”, one of thousands of contracted workers who were employed to check the voice assistant’s responses for accuracy until Apple ended the programme last month in response to privacy concerns raised by the Guardian.

In explaining why the service should deflect questions about feminism, Apple’s guidelines explain that “Siri should be guarded when dealing with potentially controversial content”. When questions are directed at Siri, “they can be deflected … however, care must be taken here to be neutral”.

For those feminism-related questions where Siri does not reply with deflections about “treating humans equally”, the document suggests the best outcome should be neutrally presenting the “feminism” entry in Siri’s “knowledge graph”, which pulls information from Wikipedia and the iPhone’s dictionary.

Siri in action on an iPhone 4s, the model that introduced it, in 2011. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images
“Are you a feminist?” once received generic responses such as “Sorry [user], I don’t really know”; now, the responses are specifically written for that query, but avoid a stance: “I believe that all voices are created equal and worth equal respect,” for instance, or “It seems to me that all humans should be treated equally.” The same responses are used for questions like “how do you feel about gender equality?”, “what’s your opinion about women’s rights?” and “why are you a feminist?”.

***

Sam Smethers, the chief executive of women’s rights campaigners the Fawcett Society, said: “The problem with Siri, Alexa and all of these AI tools is that they have been designed by men with a male default in mind. I hate to break it to Siri and its creators: if ‘it’ believes in equality it is a feminist."

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/06/apple-rewrote-siri-to-deflect-questions-about-feminism

What a sad state society is in, when the basic definition of feminism -- belief that women should be treated as equals to men -- is considered a sensitive topic.

Decades of right-wing propaganda and brainwashing have certainly twisted up a lot of people's brains.

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Post by eddie on Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:10 pm

So we have learned that we are being controlled.
Yep. I guess we already all knew that.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

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Post by eddie on Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:41 am

I find this worrying. It’s like being told what you can say or think.

Very scary.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sun Sep 08, 2019 12:47 am

eddie wrote:I find this worrying. It’s like being told what you can say or think.

Very scary.

All in the name of corporate profits, of course. And it's not just limiting what you can say or think, but what you can learn, as well. At least from Siri.

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