Exclusive: voice assistant’s responses were rewritten so it never says word ‘feminism’
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.
Previously, Siri’s answers included more explicitly dismissive responses such as “I just don’t get this whole gender thing,” and, “My name is Siri, and I was designed by Apple in California. That’s all I’m prepared to say.”
A similar sensitivity rewrite occurred for topics related to the #MeToo movement, apparently triggered by criticism of Siri’s initial responses to sexual harassment. Once, when users called Siri a “slut”, the service responded: “I’d blush if I could.” Now, a much sterner reply is offered: “I won’t respond to that.”