Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant all have something in common – each AI is programmed to have a female voice. Other than Apple adding the option of a male voice for Siri, all of the technology on the market speaks with a softer tone. Although some consider this move an act of sexism, two studies have revealed that both men and women preferred female voices - which were found to be'warmer' and'understanding'. Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa (pictured is Amazon Echo, Alexa's home) and Google's Assistant all have a female voice. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has recently cited two studies that investigate these allegations, which have discovered that'both women and men find the female voice welcoming and warm,' reports Joanna Stern with WSJ.
Playing with my Lego, as a child, I would build human-like figures. I would create a whole cast of goodies and baddies, who would invariably end up fighting. The goodies always spoke with a North American drawl, while the baddies spoke English with heavy foreign accents. The very few female characters in my games were either shrieking, hyper-feminine princesses who needed saving, or near-voiceless helpers who looked after the base and cared for the wounded heroes. My bedroom carpet was a showground for the stereotypes of the day.
I have just had a baby girl. I mean it is probably worth noting my wife played some part in her gestation and delivery, but as a modern progressive couple I'll assume a minimum of 50 percent of the credit. Her arrival has made me consider what the world holds in store for this little female version of me. As I bark at Siri, holding my daughter in the dark, for a "how to" video on baby swaddling, I suddenly feel unsettled. As it becomes second nature to bark orders at the'person in our pocket', does it matter that this person seems to be a she?
Siri, Alexa and Cortana all started out as female. Now a group of marketing executives, tech experts and academics are trying to make virtual assistants more egalitarian. Siri, Alexa and Cortana all started out as female. Now a group of marketing executives, tech experts and academics are trying to make virtual assistants more egalitarian. Have you ever noticed something most virtual assistants have in common?
Consider the artificially intelligent voices you hear on a regular basis. Are any of them men? Whether it's Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, or virtually any GPS system, chances are the computerized personalities in your life are women. This gender imbalance is pervasive in fiction as well as reality. Films like "Her" and "Ex Machina" reflect our anxieties about what intelligent machines mean for humanity.