Story at a glance
- “All Lives Matter” is a response to the Black Lives Matter movement that is used by those undermining the fight against racism and police brutality.
- Home technology assistants have been trained to distinguish between the two phrases.
- While tech companies have responded to the protests over George Floyd’s death, critics say there is more to be done.
We ask our home technology assistants questions about the weather and the news, but what about the human experience with racism? If you care to ask Apple’s Siri about the Black Lives Matter movement, she’s ready to respond.
“Yes, Black lives matter,” she says, linking to the movement’s website. And if you ask her if “All Lives Matter,” she answers back, “‘All Lives Matter’ is often used in response to the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter,’ but it does not represent the same concerns.”
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The Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa also responded similarly when other users posed the question, “Do Black lives matter.”
By comparison, here is “Alexa’s” answer: pic.twitter.com/OFmCyjKc7p
— Piya Chattopadhyay (@piya) June 7, 2020
Amazon’s website now promotes a message that reads, “Black Lives Matter. Amazon stands in solidarity with the black community,” which CEO Jeff Bezos defended on his personal social media accounts. The company has donated $10 million to organizations supporting justice and equity, according to a release on June 3.
But a group of Amazon employees on Twitter questioned the company’s statement, which did not mention the issue of police brutality.
Which police contracts have you cut? How many remain? https://t.co/uhbPV6vLcI
— Amazonians: We Won’t Build It (@WeWontBuildIt) June 2, 2020
Ring, Amazon’s “smart” doorbell program, has partnered with 400 police forces, according to a report by The Washington Post, which has raised concerns about privacy and surveillance. Users can report “suspicious” people through the app as well, which critics say can encourage racist stereotyping.
While some are left wanting, George Floyd’s death and ensuing protests against police brutality have elicited stronger responses from tech giants than deaths of black people by police have in the past. Apple CEO Tim Cook published an open letter “speaking up on racism,” redoubling its efforts to address environmental injustice, access to technology and diversity in its workforce. The company is also donating to organizations “which challenge racial injustice and mass incarceration.” Google and its parent company, Alphabet, have announced $14.5 million in donations supporting efforts to address racial injustice, inequity and violence.
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