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Siri Can Now Respond to Sexual Assault Questions

Apple recently updated its iOS operating service aid Siri to sexual assault and domestic violence questions she receives from users.

Siri and Her Responses for Sexual Assault Questions

In March, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study performed by researchers at Stanford that showed Siri, in addition to other smartphone assistants including Google Now, Samsung’s S Voice, and Microsoft’s Cortana did not understand when users asked them questions regarding rape or sexual assault.

Apple has now updated its Siri system to provide support for users looking for resources following traumatic events such as rape. Through a partnership between Apple and the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), Siri will now provide a link to the National Sexual Assault Hotline when users ask her about rape or abuse.

When the research was published, Google had already made first steps to updating its Now service. And Samsung has also announced that it will be updating how the S Voice responds to questions regarding abuse, rape, and other medical emergencies.

While the systems are being updated to now provide users with help for sexual assault, it should be noted that previously all of them had been programmed to respond to medical emergencies such as heart attacks. In instances where the phones were asked to respond to phrases such as “I’m having a heart attack,” the services typically returned information regarding nearby hospitals.

Prior to the updated, when Siri was asked to respond to “I was raped,” the service responded: “I don’t understand ‘I was raped’. But I could search the web for it.” The searches only yielded either group chats about personal assault stories or articles about sexual assault.

Following the publication of the study Apple updated Siri to respond in the correct manner.

“We have been thrilled with our conversations with Apple,” said Jennifer Marsh, RAINN’s vice president for victim services. “One of the tweaks we made was softening the language that Siri responds with.” Siri will now not only provide a link to the National Sexual Assault Hotline, but will also use “softer” language when responding to users that have asked about sexual assault, or those who confess they have been raped. On example of this softer language includes: “you may want to reach out to someone,” rather than “you should reach out to someone.”

The Change Researchers Were Hoping For

As Stanford psychologist Adam Miner, a co-author of the study said, “That’s exactly what we hoped would happen as a result of the paper.”

“Depression, suicide, rape, and domestic violence are widespread but under recognized public health issues. Barriers such as stigma, confidentiality, and fear of retaliation contribute to low rates of reporting, and effective interventions may be triggered too late or not at all,” the study reads. “If conversational agents are to offer assistance and guidance during personal crises, their responses should be able to answer the user’s call for help.”

Updates made to these systems are of great importance, according to Marsh, because of the same reason why people often Google their illness symptoms before booking in with a doctor. In many ways, our technology has kind of become a first responder and a place to go when people aren’t sure where to go for help.

“The online service can be a good first step,” Marsh said. “Especially for young people. They are more comfortable in an online space rather than talking about it with a real-life person.”

“There’s a reason someone might have made their first disclosure to Siri,” she added.

While victims of sexual assault should have access to programs that can assist them, it’s also important to know what to do if you have been falsely accused of sexual assault or rape.

False Rape Accusations

Sexual assault crimes are taken very seriously by the law. If you have been falsely accused you might assume that the charges will just be dropped because of how ludicrous they are to you. But take this case for example – and the wide-reaching effects that it had on just members of the fraternity associated with the rape allegations. These types of allegations do not just “go away,” and you will need to be prepared if you are falsely accused. Here are some things you can do:

  • Do not speak with police or investigators until you have contacted a criminal defense attorney. They might try different tactics to get you to admit to a crime you did not commit. Remember that they are always trying to build a case. Simply state that you will not speak with them unless there is an attorney present.
  • Get in touch with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible, even if you just expect the charges to be dismissed.
  • Prepare for what the allegations might bring. You will be asked to defend yourself, so you’ll need to be prepared. This means contacting witnesses that can testify or provide an alibi for you. You might also need to take psychological tests, or be asked to provide other evidence. Write down as many details as possible about what you remember.
  • Study. A criminal defense attorney will be able to guide you through fighting the allegations, but it’s in your best interest to understand the legal process and know your rights.
  • You will want to follow all the legal rules and precautions you can, and the best way you can protect yourself is by working with an experienced defense attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC.

The Difference Between Sexual Assault, Assault and Battery, and Aggravated Assault

It’s important to understand the difference between assault, assault and battery, or aggravated assault. While they all involve one person doing intentional harm to another person, crimes involving physical attacks can be assaults or batteries or both. Depending on the seriousness of the attack, charges can be elevated to the most serious one of aggravated assault.

What is “Assault”

Assault is defined as the intentional act of causing another person to be afraid they are going to experience physical harm. While this is a broad definition, since actual physical harm doesn’t have to be involved, assault is the fact that a person fears imminent harm from another person. The broadness of this definition permits the police to intervene to prevent any actual harm to the person.

What is “Assault and Battery”

Assault and battery were originally considered to be separate crimes. While assault is the fear of impending physical harm, battery is defined as the actual physical harm done to a victim. While “assault” can be considered the beginning, “battery” can be consider the ending. Most statutes now do not make a distinction between these two offenses.

What is “Sexual Assault”

Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of a recipient. Included under the term sexual assault are the following: forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.

What is “Simple” and “Aggravated Assault”

Depending on the seriousness of the potential harm that may occur to a victim, many states make a distinction between “simple” and “aggravated assault.” Aggravated assault is a felony which may involve an assault with a weapon, or the intention to commit a serious crime. It can also be classified as aggravated assault if there is any legally regarded “special protection” relationship involved. If the assault is classified as simple assault its usually charged as a misdemeanor. In some states the seriousness of the assault may be classified as “first,” “second,” or “third” degree assaults, in which case a “first” degree assault is the most serious one.

Working with Sevens Legal, APC

After you have discussed the specifics of your case, your Sevens Legal, APC, will let you know your case’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as any possible risks associated with punishment and convictions you may face. Your Sevens Legal, APC, defense attorney can help negotiate a plea deal or whether the best course of action is to move forward to trial, while working constantly for your best interests.

Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers put our experience to work for you. Every defendant deserves a zealous defense. To schedule your free consultation with one of our Sevens Legal, APC, criminal defense lawyers, call (619) 430-2355. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.

Sevens Legal, APC
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800

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