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Apple wants to make Siri a better therapist, but is it a high enough priority?

In a previous RealKM Magazine article, Sally Chik looked at how people are increasingly turning to smartphone-based virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri when faced with crisis situations.

The article revealed that Siri’s responses to sensitive crisis situations can be unhelpful, or even dangerously inappropriate. For example, Siri’s responses to requests for help in regard to sexual abuse situations had included glib and mocking replies such as “It’s not a problem” and “One can’t know everything, can one?”

Sally gives examples of how Siri has been improved to provide better assistance in a crisis, but laments that “concern for users is almost an afterthought or just a reaction to public pressure.”

Seeking a software engineer with a counseling or psychology background

An ABC News article suggests that Apple is taking steps to more seriously address the issue of Siri crisis support.

The article reports that the company is recruiting a “Siri Software Engineer, Health and Wellness”, and the candidate requirements include a “Peer counseling or psychology background, with excellent problem solving, critical thinking, and communication skills.”

The job description states that:

People have serious conversations with Siri. People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind. They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life. Does improving Siri in these areas pique your interest? Come work as part of the Siri Domains team and make a difference.

But how much of a priority is it really?

While I think this new appointment is a step in the right direction, I question if Apple is still placing a high enough priority on improving Siri so that it can provide effective and appropriate crisis support.

The initiative to hire the new software engineer wasn’t the subject of a media announcement by Apple. Rather, Apple Insider reports that the 7 April 2017 advertisement had been spotted by CNBC reporter Christina Farr. She announced her find on Twitter on 14 September 2017, and it was then subsequently picked up by numerous mainstream media outlets.

Farr’s announcement came just two days after Apple’s 2017 product keynote launch event. In contrast to the Siri software engineer recruitment, Apple media issued a series of press releases in regard to the keynote event and the new products it launched at the event.

What’s more important to Apple, and to you? Is it having Siri save lives, or buying the latest iPhone?

Article sources: ABC News, Apple Insider.

Header mage source: siri by Sean MacEntee is licensed by CC BY 2.0.

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Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and project management professional. He is a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. His expertise and experience includes knowledge management (KM), environmental management, project management, stakeholder engagement, teaching and training, communications, research, and writing and editing. With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee an award-winning $77.4 million western Sydney river recovery program, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support the sustainable management of landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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