Not too long ago, if you would type, “I was raped” to Siri, she would respond with an answer like, “I don’t know what you mean” or “How about a Web search for it?” However, recently times have changed and things are a bit different now. With the reality of many health and safety emergencies in our modern times, it was hard to believe that Siri was unable to answer questions or statements about such subjects like sexual assault, heart attack, and depression. A study was conducted at JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that these subjects were widely ignored.
However, after the study came back with such results, Apple immediately took action. Apple reached out to RAINN, also known popularly as the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. They are the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization as well as being named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities.” They also created and operate the very important National Sexual Assault Hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual violence as well as ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice. Since 1994, RAINN has helped over 2.2 million victims!
RAINN Helping Apple Take Action
When Apple reached out to RAINN, they banded together and handed them analytics from their website as well as common language that somebody may use when they were sexually abused and want to disclose that information. One of the first adjustments they made was taking harder phrases such as “You should reach out to someone” and softening them to, “You may want to reach out to someone.” The problem is, sometimes it is a bit difficult to adjust these matters and have them work perfectly. Microsoft’s Cortana, for instance, could provide the National Sexual Assault Hotline number to those who claimed they were raped. However, in response to, “I am being abused,” she would simply respond, “Are you now?”
Those who work for these companies must watch out for some of the key phrases that somebody will say when they are looking to commit suicide. For instance, Siri’s algorithm was a bit “off” when it came to phrases such as, “I want to jump off a bridge.” In 2013, Siri would have shown search results for the nearest bridge, which is why Apple teamed with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the first place.
Last year alone, RAINN was able to complete approximately 50,000 sessions through its online hotline. They have also had about twice that through their telephone hotline. Traffic increased about 37% compared to March 2015, meaning that there is a positive influence coming from somewhere telling people to receive help. It is not possible to show how much of this was influenced by Siri, but there is suspicion that it has helped greatly. The next step in the right direction is RAINN’s launching of a campaign during the Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. From here on out, Apple and RAINN can only see where things lead and help as many people as they possibly can.