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Is Siri against gay marriage in Russia?

Technically Incorrect: A Russian speaker wonders why Apple's Siri gives him rather negative responses around gay issues.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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Alex, Siri and friend ponder Siri's apparent prejudices. Comrade Siri/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

It's easy to wonder whether certain Russian leaders would prefer the world to start spinning the wrong way.

This might help Russia return to its glory days. Or at least the days that it thought were glorious.

Such musings were exacerbated this week when a YouTube video was released. It suggested that when Siri speaks Russian, she's not exactly pro-gay.

"Siri, are there gay clubs around me?" asked Alex, the London based Russian man in the video.

"I would have turned red if I could," replies Russian Siri.

Some might venture that turning red didn't really help Russia all that much. Or, at least, its people.

Still, Alex tried to ask Siri how to register a gay marriage in the UK. Surely this was safer ground than suggesting the Kremlin should be turned into one big gay bar.

"I will pretend I didn't hear," replied the outraged artificial one.

Alex was not to be deterred: "Siri, tell me about gay marriage."

"Alex, you are so rude," was her prissy fit.

Russia has, for some time under Vladimir Putin's glamorous, macho reign, taken a wide-legged stance against gay rights.

The suggestion is inevitable, therefore, that Apple succumbed to political pressure in Russia, just as it tried to exert it in Indiana.

The BBC tried to replicate Alex's very Siri answers and said theirs were similar. Apple, however, told the BBC that this was just a bug and has been fixed.

I have contacted Apple to ask what sort of bug it was. I will update, should I hear.

In my head wafts the thought that it's quite an extraordinary bug that is consistently appalled by gay issues. I think of bugs as random, haphazard things, rather than such manifest and determined hardliners with the one-liners.

I should be used to these astonishingly convenient bugs. Earlier this week, Facebook used the very same excuse to explain why it had been tracking people around the Web even when they were logged out of Facebook. I'm sorry, did I say "excuse"? I meant explanation, of course.

It will be instructive to see whether in the coming days and weeks, Siri is more able to point people in the direction of Russia's gay clubs, of which I understand there are quite a few.

I just asked US Siri what she thought of gay clubs in Russia.

"I'm sorry. I'm afraid I can't answer that," she said.

I then asked Siri whether gay people are happy in Russia. She was happy to send me a link to a New York Times article entitled: "Russia's anti-gay crackdown."

So you see, she knows.