Don’t Take Siri Camping, She’s A Terrible Botanist

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Don’t Take Siri Camping, She’s A Terrible Botanist
[ Technology]

When iOS 6 launches this fall it will ship with a much smarter Siri, according to Apple. Siri’s base of knowledge will grow to include sports stats, restaurant reservation schedules, and movies times. You’ll even be able to update your Facebook or Twitter status using Siri.

Hopefully, Siri will be smart enough to correctly identify poisonous plants.

In this episode of “get your shit together, Siri,” the voice assistant has been caught leading a hiker astray in a print ad that appeared in the July issue of The Economist.

The ad asks, “What does poison oak look like?”

To which Siri pulls up some information on the rash-inducing plant via Wolfram Alpha, and even displays a nice image for our user so that they can easily identify and avoid it. Except there’s one problem. The image isn’t poison oak. It’s posion ivy.

Here’s the ad in question, courtesy Business Insider:

Lena Struwe, a botany professor and Herbarium director at Rutgers University first spotted the mistake.

“I saw the ad,” says Struwe, “and I said, ‘This doesn’t look right.’ I sent it to the botanist community, which led to a discussion. And it turns out it’s poison ivy, not poison oak.”

What’s funny is that the image of poison ivy in the ad seems to come directly from Wikipedia.

Why would they photoshop a different picture into the ad? What could possibly be the motivation here?

The only thing I can figure is that the true poison oak image that Wolfram Alpha/Siri brings up isn’t as clear and verdant-looking at that image of poison ivy. Maybe they just wanted a better-looking advert.

Too bad the investigative botanists were on the case.

Don’t Take Siri Camping, She’s A Terrible Botanist
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  • Hugo

    No you’ve got this wrong. That picture is of Poison Oak. 100,000 years of evolution is wrong and the botanists are wrong, because Siri can’t be wrong. Oh, and Wikipedia is wrong too.

  • Steve G

    After I read that I had thoughts of somebody asking “Siri is this plant poisonous?” and the response being “No that plant is not poisonous”, and the person eating the plant our touching it and suing Apple for getting poisoned and ending up in the hospital and almost dying.

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