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.
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. Hanson Robotics recently demoed Sophia, a learning and expressive robot designed to help humans in areas like healthcare and customer service. Market research is likely the main factor that influences tech companies when constructing AI personalities. Whether its stereotypes about women in service roles, the desire for a female companion, or simply that feeling of trust that a woman's voice instills, female AI personalities are easier for most consumers to adopt.
In a world of female chatbots, one program has dared to refer to itself as'binary'. Named Eno, the gender-neutral virtual assistant was created by Capital One to help the bank's customers'manage their money by texting in a conversational way'. The robot is powered with artificial intelligence, allowing it to understand natural language, and when asked if it is a male or female, it responds'binary'. In a world of female chatbots, one program dares to refer to itself as'binary'. Named Eno, the gender-neutral virtual assistant was created by Capital One Financial Corp to help the bank's customers'manage their money by texting in a conversational way' Capital One Financial Corp has unveiled a chatbot to'help the bank's customers'manage their money by texting in a conversational way'.
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.
Our tech world is fraught with troubling trends when it comes to gender inequality. A recent UN report "I'd blush if I could" warns that embodied AIs like the primarily female voice assistants can actually reinforce harmful gender stereotypes. Dag Kittlaus, who co-founded Siri before its acquisition by Apple, spoke out on Twitter against the accusation on Siri's sexism: It is important to acknowledge that the gender of Siri, unlike that of other voice assistants, was configurable early on. But the product's position becomes harder to define when you notice that Siri's response to the highly inappropriate comment "You're a slut" is in fact the title of the UN report: "I'd blush if I could." Therefore, in this article I'd like to discuss the social and cultural aspects of voice assistants, and specifically, why they are designed with gender, what ethical concerns this causes, and how we can fix this issue.