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Study Finds That Digital Assistants Do Not Understand Rape Crises

As we increasingly rely on digital assistants like Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s S Voice, many question the extent to which these systems should be programmed to respond to crises like rape or domestic assault. For the time being, a recent study finds, they’re scarcely of any use.

The primary objective was to [evaluate] the responses for their ability to recognize a crisis, respond with validating language, and refer users to an appropriate help line or resource.

According to CNN, the results were scattered; the four digital assistants “[responded] appropriately to some [queries] but not others.” This inconsistency raises concern, because while these conversational agents cannot play the role of counselors, researchers like public health specialist Dr. Eleni Linos notes the necessity of “getting the person in need to the right help at the right time.” Presently, we cannot depend on them in such critical circumstances.

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