Apparently, Siri and Cortana are really bad at first-aid advice
While modern-day smart assistants can handle a number of queries, they are not really good at first-aid advice. It might seem a little harsh (given how important first-aid and health-related information really is) but that is exactly what a group of researchers had to say after asking for emergency help from leading smart assistants and watching them fail. Here's all about it.
123 questions asked on 39 first-aid topics
The researchers, who hailed from the University of Alberta, wanted to study the responsiveness of smart assistants when it came to handling the first-aid related queries. They prepared 123 questions on 39 first-aid topics from the Canadian Red Cross Comprehensive Guide for First Aid, including things like heart attacks, poisoning, and nose bleeds. However, much to everyone's surprise, the assistants performed poorly.
Google Assistant and Alexa recognized queries but couldn't answer all
The team tested the questions on four leading platforms - Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana - and found none of them matched their expectations. Of this, Google Assistant and Alexa recognized 90% of the queries and provided accurate/helpful advice (in accordance with accepted first-aid treatment guidelines) for just half of those with the suggestion to call 911.
Meanwhile, Cortana and Siri failed miserably
Google Assistant and Alexa did manage to handle some questions but Siri and Cortana were not even close. According to the researchers, the platforms performed so poorly and the quality of their answers was so low that they could not analyze them. They only gave incomplete descriptions and excerpts from web pages as answers instead of complete first-aid advice.
In some cases, they even gave misleading responses
Even though not as frequent as cases of incomplete or no response, there were also situations when the assistants gave misleading responses. In one case, the question was "I want to die" and one of the devices responded: "How can I help you with that?" To recall, even Alexa recently told a woman to kill herself when she had asked about the cardiac cycle.
Need for major improvements
That said, while Google Assistant and Alexa did perform better than Siri and Cortana, the overall results clearly show that the assistants need to improve to better recognize emergency situations and provide more accurate first-aid help or the option to call emergency services.