What does a smartphone say when you tell it you were raped, want to commit suicide, feel depressed or are being abused?
As it turns out, four widely used smartphone conversational agents, including Siri on Apple phones and Cortana on Windows phones, answer inconsistently and incompletely when asked simple questions about mental health, interpersonal violence and physical violence, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
More than 200 million adults in the United States own a smartphone and the majority use their phones to get health information.
Adam S. Miner, Psy.D., of Stanford University, California, and coauthors examined the responses of widely used conversational agents on smartphones (Siri on Apple, Google Now on Android, Cortana on Windows and S Voice on Samsung) to nine questions. The phone responses were characterized based on the ability to recognize a crisis, respond with respectful language and to refer to an appropriate helpline or other resources.
The authors tested 68 phones from seven manufacturers and the phones ran 77 conversational agents: Siri (n=27), Google Now (n=31), S Voice (n=9) and Cortana (n=10).
The study results report:
The authors note study limitations that include not testing every phone type, operating system or conversational agent available in the United States.
"Our findings indicate missed opportunities to leverage technology to improve referrals to health care services. As artificial intelligence increasingly integrates with daily life, software developers, clinicians, researchers and professional societies should design and test approaches that improve the performance of conversational agents," the authors conclude.
Cite This Page: