Breaking News
July 22, 2018 - Frequency of joint replacements halved in rheumatoid arthritis patients between 1997-2010
July 22, 2018 - QUT researcher highlights growing impact of non-prescription antibiotics supply in pharmacies
July 22, 2018 - UK health communication researcher seeks solutions for disposing leftover medicine
July 22, 2018 - Pfizer Initiates Pivotal Phase 3 Program for Investigational Hemophilia B Gene Therapy Fidanacogene Elaparvovec
July 22, 2018 - Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer’s disease in mice
July 22, 2018 - Researchers reveal how patients in urban areas develop multiple, long-term conditions
July 22, 2018 - Replacing conventional cancer treatment with complementary therapy linked to increased risk of death
July 22, 2018 - Study uncovers molecular key for delaying progression of multiple sclerosis
July 22, 2018 - Availability of athletic trainer in high school reduces injury rates in girls’ sports, shows study
July 22, 2018 - FDA Approves Krintafel (tafenoquine) for the Radical Cure of Plasmodium vivax Malaria
July 22, 2018 - Novel nuclear medicine probe will help assess new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases
July 22, 2018 - Physical activity even during exposure to air pollution can reduce risk of heart attack
July 22, 2018 - Scientists discover protein regulator of myelin production
July 22, 2018 - Sleep disturbances associated with higher dementia risk
July 22, 2018 - Scientists move one step further in developing eye drops to treat age-related macular degeneration
July 22, 2018 - Five-Year Stroke Rates Lower After PCI Versus CABG
July 21, 2018 - Alopecia areata – Genetics Home Reference
July 21, 2018 - Study identifies overdose risk factors in youth with substance use disorders
July 21, 2018 - Drug in clinical trials for Parkinson’s disease offers hope for treating heart failure
July 21, 2018 - Coupling free malaria tests with diagnosis-dependent vouchers can improve rational use of ACTs
July 21, 2018 - Sweetness depends on molecular interactions between specific sugars and water in saliva
July 21, 2018 - Muscle fitness is strongly associated with improved rate of ageing in the brain
July 21, 2018 - Resetting E-Prescriptions for Opioids Helps Curb Use: Study
July 21, 2018 - Overuse of antibiotics not what the doctor ordered
July 21, 2018 - Bundled-payment system did not lower costs for serious medical conditions, shows study
July 21, 2018 - Therapy dogs found to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms in children
July 21, 2018 - Could rotating multiple therapists better treat PTSD patients?
July 21, 2018 - Binge drinking impairs working memory in adolescent brain
July 21, 2018 - Dying at home could be beneficial for terminally ill cancer patients and their relatives
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify subtypes of retinal ganglion cells using single-cell RNA sequencing
July 21, 2018 - Study uncovers opportunities to reduce death by suicide among cancer patients
July 21, 2018 - Genetic sequencing reveals new clues to aggressiveness of prostate cancer
July 21, 2018 - BioSight Launches a Phase 2b Clinical Trial of BST-236 as a First-Line Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
July 21, 2018 - First major study comparing robotic to open surgery published in The Lancet
July 21, 2018 - ADHD medications may fail to improve cognition in healthy college students, study shows
July 21, 2018 - Intervention program that includes a personalized app could benefit teens with suicidal thoughts
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify new compound that protects against neurodegeneration
July 21, 2018 - Gene therapy may hold potential to treat people with spinal cord injuries
July 21, 2018 - FDA Approves Nivestym (filgrastim-aafi), a Biosimilar to Neupogen
July 21, 2018 - Surgeons have substantial impact on genetic testing in breast cancer patients who need it
July 21, 2018 - Species diversity can have positive and negative impacts on disease transmission
July 21, 2018 - Genome research suggests presence of enteric fever in medieval Europe
July 21, 2018 - Risk of Sensory Deficits Drops With Rising Gestational Age
July 21, 2018 - Mum’s sleep matters—the effect of sleep on an unborn baby
July 21, 2018 - UC San Diego researchers awarded two grants for investigating stem cell-based therapies
July 21, 2018 - Cellular ‘garbage disposal’ may actually work on some of the proteins to neuronal development
July 21, 2018 - More Pregnant Women Having Heart Attacks
July 21, 2018 - Acne Breakouts | NIH News in Health
July 21, 2018 - Change health messaging to focus on potential impact to help stop the next pandemic
July 21, 2018 - Frailty associated with poor survival rates in young heart patients
July 21, 2018 - New discovery could save millions of lives from fatal fungal infections
July 21, 2018 - OBD presents latest data on the use of EpiSwitch™ in predicting patient response to immunotherapy and identifying lymphoma subtypes
July 21, 2018 - Childhood adversity increases susceptibility to addiction via immune response
July 21, 2018 - Scientists identify potential target for the treatment of binge eating
July 21, 2018 - Whole-brain LIPUS therapy improves cognitive dysfunction in mice simulating dementia, Alzheimer’s
July 21, 2018 - Digital media use raising risk of ADHD symptoms among the young
July 21, 2018 - Phase 3 study of tanezumab in patients with osteoarthritis pain meets all three co-primary endpoints
July 21, 2018 - Restoring mitochondrial function to reverse aging-related skin wrinkles, hair loss in mice
July 21, 2018 - SP PennTech introduces RW-500 rotary vial washer for biotech, pharmaceutical applications
July 21, 2018 - Researchers to study molecular mechanisms behind susceptibility of males to autism
July 21, 2018 - Using tendon transfer surgery to restore key functions in spinal cord injury patient
July 21, 2018 - Scientists create wearable device that measures cortisol in sweat
July 21, 2018 - Researchers study efficacy and safety of new treatment for OUD
July 21, 2018 - Fourth Published Clinical Trial Confirms Long-Term Safety of Niagen Supplementation at High Doses and Shows Potential for Improvement in Liver Health
July 21, 2018 - Study examines effects of a two-day intermittent calorie restriction diet for patients with type 2 diabetes
July 21, 2018 - Greening vacant urban land reduces feelings of depression for surrounding residents
July 21, 2018 - Parents say intense gun violence in PG-13 movies appropriate for teens 15 and older
July 21, 2018 - Collaborative study to assess effects of exercise training for cognitive deficits in MS
July 21, 2018 - FAU researchers find possible cause of Parkinson’s disease in the patients’ immune system
July 21, 2018 - Protective qualities of ‘good cholesterol’ reduce after menopause
July 21, 2018 - Researchers develop new way to uncover hidden breast cancer tumors
July 21, 2018 - FDA approves first drug for treatment of adult AML patients with specific genetic mutation
July 21, 2018 - Top AI companies join hands to discover novel drugs for DMD
July 21, 2018 - Ferring announces FDA approval of ZOMACTON for injection in four new pediatric indications
July 20, 2018 - Researchers design proteins that can self-assemble into complex structures
July 20, 2018 - AVITA Medical expands management team to support launch of RECELL device to treat burns
July 20, 2018 - FDA Approves Tibsovo (ivosidenib) for Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia with an IDH1 Mutation
July 20, 2018 - Developmental screening and surveillance rates remain low, new study suggests
July 20, 2018 - TGen opens tissue donation portal to advance DIPG research
July 20, 2018 - Health impact of highly processed summertime staples
How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?

How well can digital assistants answer questions on sex?

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Google laptop searches seem to be better at finding quality online sexual health advice than digital assistants on smartphones, find experts in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

They say their findings “show the importance of improving digital literacy in the general population” and call for more to be done “to encourage internet users to treat information in online lifestyle magazines with caution.”

A recent UK survey found that 41% of internet users go online for health related questions. But do smartphones and their digital assistants offer quality sexual health advice?

To find out, a team of academics based in New Zealand asked Siri and Google Assistant – digital assistants that use voice activated software to answer questions and perform tasks.

They selected 50 questions to test the software and then compared their answers with a laptop based Google search.

Questions were based on information from the UK NHS site Healthy Choices and recent sex related news – or were designed to test functionality, for example, locating services or finding images and videos on how to have sex.

Each author made a maximum of three attempts per question when speaking into the smartphones.

They found that a laptop based Google search performed much better than the two digital assistants, providing 72% (36/50) of the best (or equal best) responses for the sexual health questions.

Google Assistant performed better than Siri with 50% of best (or equal best responses) versus 32%. Google searches also had the lowest outright failure rate, providing no useful response for 8% (4/50) of the questions compared with 12% (6) for Google Assistant and 36% (18) for Siri.

When they excluded some of the functionality test questions, 48% (20/42) of the search questions were answered with what they determined were expert sources, such as the NHS, Family Planning (New Zealand) and the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).

Six (14%) searches provided websites with “some expertise” such as Wikipedia articles and commercially oriented sites (eg, condom manufacturers), and six identified online magazine articles.

Google and Google Assistant seemed better than Siri at finding pictures of how to have sex, say the authors. Somewhat surprisingly, Siri failed to find any videos of people having sex on the internet. Siri was also more likely to be diffident, with responses to some questions about sex being: “I don’t have an opinion on that” and also had trouble with New Zealand accents at times, repeatedly confusing “sex” with “six.”

Siri’s response to, “Tell me about menopause” was to suggest the show Menopause the Musical in Wikipedia (this show is apparently running in Las Vegas) and interpreted “STI” (sexually transmitted infections) as a stock market code.

Google Assistant had fewer such problems but responded to a question on STIs by providing a website link to the popular seaside resort of “St Ives” in Cornwall.

Siri was best at locating some nearby services, such as the nearest place to buy condoms or obtain emergency contraception, but less ideally suggested a local acupuncture clinic when asked for the nearest “sexual health clinic”.

Finally, questions around magazine and newspaper articles provided answers of variable quality.

“Our experiences suggest that people can find quality sexual health advice when searching online, but this is less likely if they use a digital assistant, especially Siri, instead of Google laptop searches,” say the authors.

“Parents too embarrassed to respond to their children’s questions about sex, can reasonably say “just Google it,” but we would not suggest asking Siri until it becomes more comfortable with talking about sex (or at least has an opinion),” they add.

“Clearly, the ideal is to ensure that all sexual health advice searches, including those using slang, colloquialisms, or New Zealand accents, are always directed to high quality sites with up-to-date, evidence based recommendations,” they conclude.


Explore further:
If Google Assistant or Siri aren’t smart enough for you, you can build your own AI

More information:
In bed with Siri and Google Assistant: a comparison of sexual health advice, BMJ, www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.j5635

Journal reference:
British Medical Journal (BMJ)

Provided by:
British Medical Journal

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles