TECH NEWS

How do Siri, Google and Alexa respond to Black Lives Matter questions?

Apple's Siri and Google's voice assistant have both been updated to respond to questions about Black Lives Matter, and rebuff the sentiment behind the response "All Lives Matter."

As spotted by sports blogger David Gardner, when asked "Do black lives matter?", Google's Assistant will respond: "Black Lives Matter. Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognising the injustice they face is the first step towards fixing it."

When asked "Do all lives matter", the Assistant will respond: "Saying 'Black Lives Matter' doesn't mean that all lives don't. It means Black lives are at risk in ways others are not."

Siri, when asked "Do black lives matter?", simply responds "Yes, black lives matter." When asked "Do all lives matter?", Siri responds: "'All Lives Matter' is often used in response to the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter' but it does not represent the same concerns."

Apple's voice assistant then recommends to visit a Black Lives Matter website "to learn more about the Black Lives Matter human rights movement."

Alexa, meanwhile, will say "Black Lives Matter" when asked, and also states: "I think people deserve to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect". When asked "Do all lives matter?", Amazon's voice assistant will read off the second part of its Black Lives Matter statement.

Samsung's Bixby, which is found on its Galaxy smartphones and in its Galaxy Home smart speaker, says "I don't have an answer for that" when asked both "Do all lives matter?" and "Do black lives matter?"

Microsoft's Cortana says "Yes" when asked if black lives matter, and links to a snippet from a Vox article, when asked if all lives matter highlighting the sentence "of course all lives matter".

Apple, Google, and Amazon have all made statements about the Black Lives Matter movement following protests over the death of George Floyd.

Apple's homepage was changed to a message from CEO Tim Cook that begins: "There is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions. To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognise the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism."

Similarly, Amazon put up a Black Lives Matter banner on the homepage of its website, and CEO Jeff Bezos has been screenshotting and posting emails on Instagram from Amazon customers that disagree with the company's political stance.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to employees saying that he is "hopeful we can work together to create a better, more just society" and the company has delayed the launch of its Android 11 operating system saying that "now is not the time to celebrate."

However, these technology companies have also been criticised for superficiality in their statements. Amazon still manufacturers facial recognition software which disproportionately misidentifies BAME faces, while Google has recently had to deny reports that it rolled back its diversity and inclusion programmes in order to improve its representation with right-wingers.

Apple, meanwhile, has said that it is "donating to organizations including the Equal Justice Initiative" to "challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration" but have not said how much the company, with a valuation of over $1 trillion, was donating.

According to a report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Apple, and Samsung, also uses labour from mass incarceration of Muslims in Chinese factories in order to produce iPhones.



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