You can ask Siri to tell you the best place on your block to get Thai food or how late in the afternoon you can bring in your car in for an oil change. So why can't it tell you what to do in a crisis situation?

A new study finds that, while the most popular smartphone personal assistants can help in some emergency situations by directing users to hospitals or dialing a suicide hotline, its responses in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault were woefully inadequate.

Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan says it's time for that to change.

"We're going to do more and more interactivity with these mobile devices. Information can be about all kinds of grim subjects. You need to program the advice so it can respond," Caplan said.

He pointed to the fact that 60% of smartphone users are using their devices to look up information about their health. 

"I think it's time to start to treat these things as what they are, which is kind of our crutch when we get in a crisis," he said.

Arthur Caplan is the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics and the director of the division of Medical Ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center. To hear more from Caplan, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.