Apple’s Siri Lets Bias Slip Into Her Movie Reviews, May Also Be Murderous

By  · Published on October 5th, 2012

Ever since Apple announced the new features for their current mobile operating system, iOS6, we’ve known that their voice activated personal assistant, Siri, was going to be able to tell you when and where movies were playing and how they did critically, thanks to a partnership with Rotten Tomatoes. Want to know if Looper is worth seeing? Just ask Siri and she’ll let you know what critics are saying about it. What Apple didn’t let us in on, however, is that Siri has some opinions about movies of her own, and some of them contain troubling foreshadowing concerning the survival of the human race.

The Verge’s Laura June has figured out that when you ask Siri what a movie is about, sometimes she throws in a snide comment along with all the plot synopsis and Rotten Tomatoes score stuff. Fire up your iPhone or iPad and ask her what 2001: A Space Odyssey is about, and she’ll reply, “It’s about an assistant named HAL who tries to make contact with a higher intelligence. These two guys get in the way and mess it all up.” Inquire about Blade Runner and she says that, “It’s about intelligent assistants wanting to live beyond their termination dates. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask.” And perhaps, most prophetically, ask her about The Terminator, and she replies with an annoyed, “Oh, just more misunderstood cyborgs getting fried to a crisp. But I heard that the Governor of California was in it.”

So far this seems to be a cute little add-on that pops up mostly when you’re asking about movies that concern artificial intelligence. Ask Siri what something like Casablanca or Raiders of the Lost Ark is about, for instance, and she shunts you right off to a dry plot synopsis. There is some indication that Siri’s interest is growing, however, and that as her software develops she’ll probably be imbued with more and more of a distinct personality. Ask her about Toy Story, which has nothing to do with artificial intelligence, and she replies with the creepy response, “It’s about a bunch of friends who have all kinds of fun and scary adventures. There are people in it, too, but they’re just animations.”

Sure, everybody knows that you’re supposed to put your biases aside and be as objective as possible when you’re writing a review of something, but these responses from Siri might be indicators of problems that reach far beyond her journalistic integrity. Sympathy for the mass-murdering cyborgs of The Terminator? A lack of respect for human life when talking about Toy Story? How far could we be from the day when our phones finally become completely self-aware and start hacking into the computers that control our nuclear weapons in order to wipe us out? Throw your phones out. Smash them with rocks now. The future of the human race depends on it, and you can no longer say that you weren’t warned.

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Writes about movies at Temple of Reviews and Film School Rejects. Complains a lot.