Apple on Thursday said it is suspending a program called grading that helps the company improve Siri for its users. The process uses snippets of audio files to determine whether Siri heard the command correctly or whether it was invoked by mistake.
“We are committed to delivering a great Siri experience while protecting user privacy,” Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch. “While we conduct a thorough review, we are suspending Siri grading globally. Additionally, as part of a future software update, users will have the ability to choose to participate in grading.”
To be clear, Apple never hid the fact it was using snippets of audio to improve Siri, but a piece from The Guardian quoting stories of sex and crime was enough for Apple to reevaluate its process.
I understand Apple’s point of view, and something had to be done to quell any fears from its users about privacy. I think they have the best solution by allowing people to opt-in to help the company improve Siri.
I will be one of those people.
I believe that if I’m going to point out the flaws and mistakes that Siri makes—and I often do—I should also be willing to help improve the service if allowed to do so. Apple is giving me that opportunity.
Sharing those snippets with Apple doesn’t concern me in the least, especially when you consider what they use.
Here is what Apple told The Guardian:
“A small portion of Siri requests are analyzed to improve Siri and dictation. User requests are not associated with the user’s Apple ID. Siri responses are analyzed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements.” The company added that a very small random subset, less than 1% of daily Siri activations, are used for grading, and those used are typically only a few seconds long.
I understand that a lot of people will not want to send Apple their data, even under those conditions. That’s their choice.
I also understand that it’s oversimplifying the matter to say, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” However, what I don’t want to see is people complaining about Siri when they have no interest in helping to fix it.
I want to be part of the solution.