The Push For A Gender-Neutral Siri

NPR

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?


Where are all the male AI voice assistants?

#artificialintelligence

If you were to ask your device with an AI voice assistant a random question, what gender would respond to you? Female most likely, and that's because only female artificial intelligence assistants have been developed. Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant all have female voices. Apple's Siri also started as female only, but added a male voice option three years ago, even though the female voice is still the default. It might be easy to think that female AI voices have been the go-to because of sexism -- lots of men in leadership and developer roles at Silicon Valley -- and that may be at play, but there's more to it. Two studies recently cited by The Wall Street Journal show that men and women prefer a female voice assistant because they believe it's more welcoming and understanding.


Where Are All The Male AI Voice Assistants?

#artificialintelligence

If you were to ask your device with an AI voice assistant a random question, what gender would respond to you? Female most likely, and that's because only female artificial intelligence assistants have been developed. Microsoft's Cortana, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant all have female voices. Apple's Siri also started as female only, but added a male voice option three years ago, even though the female voice is still the default. It might be easy to think that female AI voices have been the go-to because of sexism -- lots of men in leadership and developer roles at Silicon Valley -- and that may be at play, but there's more to it. Two studies recently cited by The Wall Street Journal show that men and women prefer a female voice assistant because they believe it's more welcoming and understanding.


Adios, Alexa: why must our robot assistants be female?

The Guardian

Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa, and Google has … well, Google Assistant. That last name doesn't give it away, but get it talking and the common link between all three AI assistants is revealed: they are all supposed to be women. Providing assistance has long been considered a woman's role, whether virtual or physical, fictional or real. The robots that men voice, meanwhile, tend to be in positions of power – often dangerously so. Think Hal 9000, or the Terminator: when a robot needs to be scary, it sounds like a man.


Let's not allow artificial intelligence to reinforce very real stereotypes

#artificialintelligence

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.