Voice assistants like Alexa and Siri don’t know space facts, NASA could fix that

Kyle Wiggers at VentureBeat published a story today examining the questionable quality of Amazon’s Alexa Answers service. The piece highlights several answers to questions that were false or misleading, including this:

The third question — “Who was the first black man on the moon?” — contains a false premise. No African American astronaut has walked on the moon to date, although one user offers “Bernard Anthony Harris Jr.” as a potential answer. This is incorrect — while Harris became the first African American to perform a spacewalk in February 1995, he never stepped foot on the moon. Interestingly, Alexa rarely surfaces this answer when asked the question, but instead erroneously responds with the answer “Neil Armstrong.”

I tried this same question with Siri on my Mac. Siri doesn’t offer a blatantly wrong answer like the Alexa Answers response, but it does punt to a list of web results with a misleading first entry.

The first Wikipedia result Siri surfaces tells you about Bernard Harris, the first African-American to complete a spacewalk, but not Guion Bluford who was the first African-American in space.

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