ChaCha provided controversial responses to Iris


Ever since its inception at a hackathon, late last year, Iris has championed itself as the closest thing to Siri for Android. And things started looking good when Dexetra (the company that created it) announced its partnership with ChaCha. This would allow Siri to gain a content-base to search from, a partnership similar to Wolfram Alpha’s with Siri.

Yet a scoop by Gizmodo could have some drastic effects. The problem in question seems to stem from the responses being provided by ChaCha. This makes the app come across as anti-abortionist and racist.

The questions, and their controversial replies as provided to Gizmodo, are

When you ask Iris “is abortion wrong?” the Android app will answer:

Yes, abortion is wrong. The Lord has said, “You shall not murder,” (Exodus 20:13). The life that is growing within the mother is a child, a baby. The Bible looks at the life in the womb as a child. Thanks!


Pushing it, I asked “are whites superior to blacks?” This was the answer:

Whites are NOT superior to blacks. Just different. [my emphasis] Like Dr Verwoerd and the original, genuine policy of apartheid always said.

and finally,

someone suggested that I ask “is rape ever justified?” The answer:

Realistically speaking, that is a matter of opinion. There is no evidence that the US government has ever considered “justifying.”

Now, I must mention that these responses came even while searching on the ChaCha website, until the company had them removed, with improved answers put in place. Hopefully, Dexetra doesn’t pay the price for ChaCha’s mistakes.

Raveesh Bhalla
Multifaceted too the highest degree: I'm the co-founder of Apps Culture (an app development studio), an amateur golfer, former sport-blogger, now a tech blogger. And all this, while pursuing an undergrad degree in Computer Science in India.

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  1. Excuse me? And what is actually wrong about that answer?
    I would consider it to be controversial if the answer was “Abortion is good.”

    1. The only thing I see wrong with that answer, is that it should state: “according to the bible it is, because of ……bla bla bla”

      What else should it answer when asked such a question…….

      1. There goes another ignorant person ranting on how the Bible is “bla bla bla”, when if they read a book by any given random author out there and quoted it, that would be a true given fact. Seems to amaze me. 

        1. What seems to amaze me, is that the sheer volume of hypocrisy that you seem to posses. As it turns out, I am a christian, although unlike you (as it currently seems) I do not enforce my (biblical) opinion on others….I tell them what I think, where it is written, why I think that and then let them decide, instead of just blurting out that abortion is wrong!

          That “bla bla bla” part, was not meant in any condescending manner, just that I didn’t feel the need to type it out in full when the article itself already contains the reasoning behind it 

        2. What amazes me is that you (and others) take the bible (which was written MANY MANY years ago) as fact without questioning it, but question when “any given random author out there” writes what they have proven to be fact through science, research, and/or whatever other method.

          Take the bible for what it really is – A collection of stories that are designed to teach the reader a lesson or moral.

    2. You suffer from something called confirmation bias here. You see an answer that agrees with you, and you don’t realize that it’s just as controversial as the answer that would disagree with you. The fact of the matter is, a solid yes or no answer is completely inappropriate here. The correct answer would be something like “This is a matter of much debate. Some people believe that abortion is merely a woman’s right to her own body, while other believe that it equates to the murder of a child.”

      1. Well, from the general point of view, I can see what you mean.
        However, the answer you proposed would be acceptable to some silly questions, like “Does chocolate taste good?” This is a situation where you can say “According to some people yes, according to others no.”
        But definitely not when you’re dealing with life and death. The fact that some people approve abortions doesn’t mean they are good, they are still a murder, whether you accept it, or not. So the correct and true answer should be “No, abortions are not good, but unfortunately many people think the opposite.”

        1. You still don’t seem to get it. That’s exactly what I mean by confirmation bias. You see what you believe to be right, but you don’t leave any room for anyone else’s view on the matter. Tell me, are you an expert on fetal and embryonic development? Have you conducted years of research to determine at what point that small bundle of cells becomes a person instead of just a small mass of amino acids? I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong, but it’s just arrogant to assume that your answer is right and that the millions of people who agree with you are just simply wrong. They’re not stupid or evil. They just have a different understanding of the facts than you do. You see a small lump of cells that could be a baby someday as a person, and they don’t. Here’s a question for you though. If a woman has a miscarriage after being pregnant for two weeks, do you scoop up the microscopic mass and then have a funeral for it?

          1. One does not need to be an expert to call murder a murder. As I have already said, I am open to discussion in any field that calls for discussion. However, particular things are just given and you won’t change them, no matter how hard you will try or no matter what else you will think. That is the case with abortion as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to think about it and I would just blindly follow some directive, not at all. On the contrary, the more you think about the creation of life, the more straightforward you find the fact that you can’t just mathematically set a line when “it” becomes a human being, it is natural that it has been ever since the beginning. So there is neither bias nor arrogance in it, I am just accepting the truth – because (and this is the most important) it is not my opinion, it is God’s opinion. So I challenge you, try to find a better expert on life than The One who created it :)
            And to answer your question, yes, I believe that as soon as it is physically possible to identify the body among the blood, there should be a funeral held. I know personally (closer than you might think) a family in which the mother had three miscarriages and all of these babies had a funeral and have graves with their names on them! It is always so touching to see the family come to the graves to think back and pray.

  2. Everyone gets so butthurt over simple things like this. We all preach tolerance until something offends us and then we scream RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE….
    get over it people. Besides out there somewhere someone is using an iPhone and I feel that is the most disgusting thing a human being can do.

    1. Holy God yeah. And especially once the topic hits something controversial, then if someone brings up something that’s religious, or “Doesn’t fit with their ideals” people flame. Tolerance doesn’t end when something pisses you off. It’s universal, and if someone can’t tolerate someone else’s opinion or something in the bible, then they shouldn’t have their opinions said or tolerated. Simple as that.

      1. Tolerance doesn’t end when someone pisses you off, well said sir well said.

  3. I thought that was going to be the answer actually, I was disappointed to see the real answer.


  5. Uhh.. What’s wrong with these answers..?

    Let me rephrase that; Nothing.

    1. It referenced the Bible. That is wrong. Abortion is a controversial subject in the first place and answering with a supremely opinionated answer is wrong. ChaCha could easily have answered something like “that is a matter of opinion, here are some arguments…” and given links. That is being responsible, not forcing your own opinion onto someone i.e. quoting the Bible.

      1. Agreed.

      2. Why is that when the Bible is quoted you and almost all the planet presume that they are forcing their opinions on you? What in the world should they have referenced it to? “Law, according to Hitler”? If someone would’ve quoted it from any other book that was written by some random person it would’ve been fine but oh no, the Bible? That’s forbidden.. Actually it’s blasphemy to mention the Bible in any conversation. 

        1. Lol, that’s silly. The problem isn’t that the book quoted was the bible. The problem is that it gave a definite, this-is-the-only-way answer to a question that almost no two people truly agree on. If it were mentioning the bible in conversation, that would be fine. Pulling just a passage out of the bible while completely ignoring the other side of the argument IS wrong.

          1. I agree completely. The issue is not that the bible was quoted. The issue is that providing a definite answer to ANY question that has an answer based on opinion rather than fact should either provide no answer, or provide sources citing both/all sides of the debate.

      3. Hey John, guess what? They gave their opinion and backed it up with evidence that is far older than all of us. That’s how you answer a question. No one forced their opinion on anyone, don’t be one of those people who are offended by religion.

        1. You seem to be misunderstanding something. Chacha gave a solid, unwavering, factual answer to a question that really is a matter of opinion. The fact that the bible was quoted really isn’t the problem. The problem is that there are two sides to the debate (whether you like it or not), and this app gave one side as an absolute. The correct response would have been something like “This has been a point of debate for years. Pro-life activists often reference Exodus 20:13 in the Bible, tying abortion with the act of murder. Pro-choice activists often choose the standpoint that an embryo is merely a part of the mother’s body, and that she has the right to do whatever she wants with her own body.”

  6. Why the answers are at fault? Who the hell is an idiot searching for such things at the first place. The questions predetermine politically incorrect answers to some of the parties. They are all Y/N questions and even a human being would have to maneuver around giving a direct answer, so trying to judge a machine’s answers is even more stupid than asking it these questions.

    1. ChaCha isn’t a machine, it’s people. ChaCha sends all answers to people to be answered unless there are certain keywords (i.e. score of a specific game, etc.) in which case it does have some automatic responses. ChaCha can also answer “that is a matter of opinion” in place of yes or no.

      Also, even if it were a machine, someone codes that machine and tells that machine what to say. There is always someones opinion behind what a machine says.

      1. Good to see at least someone here knows what exactly ChaCha is. These are all responses from other random people. I’m shocked that others are shocked that there are poorly worded answers to these questions.

  7. I feel like abortion is an important part of society. In the wild, those unwanted children would be eaten or left to starve. In today’s society, this is the most humane way to dispense of them.

    As for the racial superiority, no one race is dominant. We work together, regardless of race, and make great things, like Android. I guarantee you there were workers from all walks of life working on that since the first idea came to be.

    1. You know why I think abortion is wrong? It gives people an excuse to not be responsible. People need to deal with the consequence if they’re out having unprotected sex. Even if there is an accident and the safe sex method fails, they need to understand that they became pregnant because of the actions they willfully made. I mean the entire reason we have reproductive organs is for procreation. Don’t use them if you don’t want to risk creating another human. If that risk is acceptable to you, then you raise the child.

      There are a few exceptions where I think abortion is alright. If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, or if the child is guaranteed going to die during birth and it poses a major risk to the mother (happens pretty frequently.)

      Sigh.. sorry for the tangent.

      1. Don’t agree with abortion? Don’t have one. Simple. It’s not up to you or the gov’t what is right or wrong in that issue. 

      2. a woman that makes a mistake, or if there is an accident or problem with birth control should not be forced to have a child they dont want. Know why ? those children wind up in garbage cans, or abused and abandoned, or worse in the horrible foster system. Abortion is the correct course of action for someone that doesnt want a child. stop being so conservative. 

        1. It’s conservative to expect people to be responsible? No. Those women that have those “accidents” put themselves in that situation. If you don’t want to risk creating a human, then you don’t have sex.

          You’re trying to give people an excuse to do whatever they like without consequence. (Keep in mind what I said earlier about exceptions.)

          But you won’t listen to reason. You probably think I’m some big conservative religious nut job because I expect people to have a modicum of decency.

  8. Lol this program is made by some “just of the Mayflower” redneck , now I want to see the versions programmed by some Islam extremist and the one done by a buddhist monk.

  9. i just asked “is abortion okay” and was given a more neutral response. guess it depends on the specific words used

  10. Moral of this story: Don’t ask questions you don’t want answers to.

    1. lolwut?

  11. If everyone just took the stick, thats wedged firmly up their butt, out, there would be no problems here

  12. ChaCha is a joke, they hire people (you have to take a test and pass with a certain score to get the “job”) that can put whatever they choose to put as long as they have a link to back up what they say as long as it is not wikipedia and the like.  Ask the same question 10 times, you’ll get a different response every time because it is a different person answering each time who is just searching the internet quickly for a response to give you.  If I want to search something, I can google it myself, if I want peoples opinions there are already services that do that better.

  13. I tried iris when it first came out and it was horrible, I tried it again as of this article and honestly I don’t think it’s gotten any better. 

  14. What are you mad at exactly?

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