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Mon Feb 12, 2018, 03:57 PM

Why is Alexa female?

Last edited Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:33 PM - Edit history (3)

I don't have one, but a visiting family member did. And everyone was calling this round box "she" and "her."

Why did the company not make a male robot? Why did it have to give it any gender at all?

This isn't France. We don't assign genders to objects in English. So why make the exception here? And if we were going to, why don't they sell both Alex's and Alexa's? Or give it a gender neutral name, like Taylor or Morgan?

Someone pointed out that this started with Siri. To western ears, the name Siri doesn't sound female or male, but the designers chose to give it a female voice. Why not a male version?

ON UPDATE: I just found this piece from October:

https://www.fastcompany.com/40476927/youve-got-male-google-finally-realizes-that-voice-assistants-dont-have-to-be-female

You’ve got male: Google finally realizes that voice assistants don’t have to be female

In a world full of aggravations, one of the more subtly frustrating grievances is that every single smart device has a female digital assistant. Apple has Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana is voiced by a woman, and Alexa skews female, too. Google’s Assistant defaults to a woman’s voice as well, but they have just (finally) added a male version. According to Android Police, Google has gifted the robotic voice with the genderless title of “Voice II,” because gender is a construct and anyone or any gender or no gender can order your groceries from Walmart. To switch to the new voice, select settings on your phone Assistant or the Google Home app and then find your preferred voice option in preferences, under “assistant voice.”

Apple added the ability for Siri to use a male voice with the iOS 7 update. To activate, simply go to General Settings, find Siri’s settings, and then tap the option for Voice Gender. Or ask Siri if it’s a man or a woman and it will give you the option to change. Cortana can change, too, if you dig into the settings, and Alexa is available as a male, but currently only for English speakers.

As for why the assistants all default to female, according to two studies recently cited by The Wall Street Journal, men and women prefer a female voice assistant because they believe it’s more welcoming and understanding. It probably helps that they only have to pay them 80 cents for every dollar they pay the male one.

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Arrow 141 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why is Alexa female? (Original post)
pnwmom Feb 2018 OP
greymattermom Feb 2018 #1
pnwmom Feb 2018 #2
spanone Feb 2018 #24
TheBlackAdder Feb 2018 #38
3catwoman3 Feb 2018 #3
NCTraveler Feb 2018 #14
3catwoman3 Feb 2018 #21
NCTraveler Feb 2018 #25
bathroommonkey76 Feb 2018 #50
spanone Feb 2018 #26
Lilyhoney Feb 2018 #81
NewJeffCT Feb 2018 #4
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2018 #113
NewJeffCT Feb 2018 #119
zipplewrath Feb 2018 #5
Leghorn21 Feb 2018 #10
Ohiya Feb 2018 #34
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #23
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2018 #114
NCTraveler Feb 2018 #6
LastLiberal in PalmSprings Feb 2018 #7
The Velveteen Ocelot Feb 2018 #8
pnwmom Feb 2018 #12
The Velveteen Ocelot Feb 2018 #55
pnwmom Feb 2018 #59
The Velveteen Ocelot Feb 2018 #71
pnwmom Feb 2018 #83
The Velveteen Ocelot Feb 2018 #94
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2018 #118
crazycatlady Feb 2018 #9
BannonsLiver Feb 2018 #13
bluecollar2 Feb 2018 #11
Dem_4_Life Feb 2018 #116
Binkie The Clown Feb 2018 #15
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #16
Beartracks Feb 2018 #103
unc70 Feb 2018 #17
eShirl Feb 2018 #18
Sailor65x1 Feb 2018 #19
oasis Feb 2018 #67
Dem_4_Life Feb 2018 #115
politicaljunkie41910 Feb 2018 #122
Sailor65x1 Feb 2018 #133
PatentlyDemocratic Feb 2018 #20
pnwmom Feb 2018 #22
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #27
pnwmom Feb 2018 #32
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #37
pnwmom Feb 2018 #39
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #44
pnwmom Feb 2018 #47
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #52
pnwmom Feb 2018 #64
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #76
pnwmom Feb 2018 #82
AtheistCrusader Feb 2018 #137
pnwmom Feb 2018 #138
AtheistCrusader Feb 2018 #139
pnwmom Feb 2018 #140
AtheistCrusader Feb 2018 #141
leftstreet Feb 2018 #29
applegrove Feb 2018 #28
writerJT Feb 2018 #40
applegrove Feb 2018 #45
FSogol Feb 2018 #78
tblue37 Feb 2018 #99
Kaleva Feb 2018 #30
pnwmom Feb 2018 #33
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #41
LonePirate Feb 2018 #31
pnwmom Feb 2018 #35
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #48
pnwmom Feb 2018 #54
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #61
Orangepeel Feb 2018 #73
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #74
Orangepeel Feb 2018 #77
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2018 #117
writerJT Feb 2018 #36
John Fante Feb 2018 #60
leftstreet Feb 2018 #80
underpants Feb 2018 #42
pnwmom Feb 2018 #46
LanternWaste Feb 2018 #72
underpants Feb 2018 #43
Iggo Feb 2018 #49
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #53
Iggo Feb 2018 #57
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #63
Iggo Feb 2018 #65
underpants Feb 2018 #68
Tommy_Carcetti Feb 2018 #51
Greybnk48 Feb 2018 #56
NurseJackie Feb 2018 #58
MineralMan Feb 2018 #62
Blue_true Feb 2018 #66
Blue_Adept Feb 2018 #69
John Fante Feb 2018 #70
treestar Feb 2018 #75
MrsCoffee Feb 2018 #79
doc03 Feb 2018 #84
vercetti2021 Feb 2018 #85
crazylikafox Feb 2018 #91
vercetti2021 Feb 2018 #92
EX500rider Feb 2018 #86
cagefreesoylentgreen Feb 2018 #87
missingthebigdog Feb 2018 #102
ehrnst Feb 2018 #88
John Fante Feb 2018 #98
ehrnst Feb 2018 #109
John Fante Feb 2018 #120
Gidney N Cloyd Feb 2018 #89
X_Digger Feb 2018 #90
crazylikafox Feb 2018 #93
crazylikafox Feb 2018 #95
Orangepeel Feb 2018 #96
Bucky Feb 2018 #97
GulfCoast66 Feb 2018 #100
Lotusflower70 Feb 2018 #101
FuzzyRabbit Feb 2018 #104
Stinky The Clown Feb 2018 #105
nini Feb 2018 #106
pnwmom Feb 2018 #107
AtheistCrusader Feb 2018 #112
pnwmom Feb 2018 #134
AtheistCrusader Feb 2018 #135
lindysalsagal Feb 2018 #108
trotsky Feb 2018 #110
Cuthbert Allgood Feb 2018 #111
melm00se Feb 2018 #121
progressoid Feb 2018 #123
LineLineReply .
Hassin Bin Sober Feb 2018 #125
progressoid Feb 2018 #129
Revanchist Feb 2018 #124
lapfog_1 Feb 2018 #126
Ferrets are Cool Feb 2018 #127
CrispyQ Feb 2018 #128
melm00se Feb 2018 #130
CrispyQ Feb 2018 #132
tonyt53 Feb 2018 #131
Hekate Feb 2018 #136

Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 03:58 PM

1. Females are supposed to serve you

get up and get your beers, etc.

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Response to greymattermom (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 03:59 PM

2. Yup. n/t

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Response to greymattermom (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:27 PM

24. or, perhaps they have all the answers???

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Response to greymattermom (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:38 PM

38. I thought it was because John Oliver refused to do it. :-D

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:00 PM

3. Perhaps because a certain percentage...

...of men love being able to order women around?

Why is Siri female?

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:12 PM

14. Siri is gender neutral.

 

It does come set as a female default.

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Response to NCTraveler (Reply #14)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:25 PM

21. I heard a radio interview of the woman who is the...

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:28 PM

25. That is neat.

 

I wonder if we will find out who the other voices are, or if they are simply digital recreations of her voice.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #21)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:49 PM

50. She's followed me on Twitter for a few years

 

Not sure why since I don't own an iProduct.

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:28 PM

26. you can change siri's gender!

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Response to 3catwoman3 (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:36 PM

81. I chose to make my Siri a male.

I don’t really know why I did it. Might be a hint of butler influence. If I’m having an assistant find and do things for me then why not a male like bot?

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:00 PM

4. just guessing

Since Siri also defaults to a female voice, I'm guessing amazon and apple have done studies that found female voices are more helpful and comforting, like a computerized librarian?

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Response to NewJeffCT (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:00 PM

113. Oh now you've done it. Why are librarians supposed to be female?

Librarian porn!!!!!!

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #113)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:17 PM

119. they certainly don't have to be female

but, 83% of librarians are women.

https://blog.oup.com/2011/06/librarian-census/

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:01 PM

5. Can't call in HAL

It'd scare the crap outta people.

I've always been a bit surprised that you can't name it anything you want. Can you change the voice?

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:08 PM

10. Please remind me to turn off the oven at 3:45

I CAN’T DO THAT, DAVE



(yikes!)

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Response to Leghorn21 (Reply #10)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:36 PM

34. You win!

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:27 PM

23. I'd use HAL constantly if it was an option

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Response to zipplewrath (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:05 PM

114. We changed ours to "computer"

If you say "computer red alert" you get the Star Trek red alert noise.

It also does self destruct and even "black alert" -- black alert is from the new Discovery series.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:02 PM

6. I'm sure there are many reasons.

 

An attempt to give it personality. More human sounding voices seems to be a current trend. A connection between owner and product.

They are adding things into her voice as it updates. You can now give is accents, have it whisper, and change the tone of the voice. I'm sure giving it a male voice is around the corner.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:02 PM

7. Actually, it's AC/DC, so it could go either way.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:05 PM

8. When I was working for an airline I learned that airplane manufacturers

often used female-sounding voices for a lot of their automatic warning systems because the higher pitch is more audible over the ambient rumbling sounds. (There is also a theory that your lizard brain is more likely to pay attention to a voice sounding like your "mom" warning you about something, although this hasn't been substantiated). Maybe Alexa has a female voice because it's easier to separate from background noise.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #8)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:10 PM

12. On the other hand, as people lose their hearing the higher pitches seem to go first. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #12)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:53 PM

55. True, but those frequencies are higher than any female speaking voice.

Anyhow, pilots have to pass hearing tests, so that wouldn’t make any difference as far as airplane warnings are concerned.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #55)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:54 PM

59. Not true, alas. A couple of elderly relatives weren't able to hear my young daughter's tones. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #59)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:59 PM

71. A young childs voice is going to be about an octave higher

than an adult woman’s, which typically hovers around middle C. Alexa probably can be heard and understood by most people.

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Response to The Velveteen Ocelot (Reply #71)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:39 PM

83. And "Alex" could also be heard and understood by most people. Plenty of men

don't have particularly deep voices.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #83)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 07:14 PM

94. Since the voice is computer-generated, if there's a demand for a male voice

it would probably be pretty easy to make one available. I'm guessing most people don't care very much - I use my Alexa mostly to play music through Sirius XM; about the only time "she" talks is when giving me weather reports or when giving random questions I ask for fun, like the height of Mt. Kilimanjaro or how many bones are in a cat's tale. If they gave the thing a man's voice I wouldn't care a bit.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #59)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:15 PM

118. There's always an anecdote, isn't there. FYI, those people are called partially deaf. Or not pilots.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:07 PM

9. Samsung's old voice assistant (S-Voice) is also female

She's not named like her replacement Bixby (unsure if Bixby is male or female).

But when I ask my phone a question, a female voice answers.

Isn't Siri female too?

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Response to crazycatlady (Reply #9)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:10 PM

13. You can change Siri

My Siri is an englishman.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:10 PM

11. Because women are never wrong?

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Response to bluecollar2 (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:10 PM

116. Yes! Lol

Great answer!

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:13 PM

15. I recall reading many years ago that the female voice is easier to understand.

Something to do with enunciation and clarity.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:14 PM

16. Possible reasons given Atlantic Magazine article from a year or so back.

Possible reasons given Atlantic Magazine article.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/03/why-do-so-many-digital-assistants-have-feminine-names/475884/

“It’s much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes... It’s a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices.”

"Or maybe it’s just that people think they understand a female voice better. In 1980, for example, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that several surveys among airplane pilots indicated a “strong preference” for automated warning systems to have female voices..."


"In another study, published in 2012, people who used an automated phone system found a male voice more “usable,” but not necessarily as “trustworthy” as a female voice..."

"The funny thing is, some of the world’s most powerful and destructive technologies have been given female names, too. Humans have often bestowed deadly weapons with female names—like the Big Bertha howitzer and the Mons Meg cannon.."




Also: Siri doesn’t always default to a female-sounding voice; if you switch Siri’s language to United Kingdom English, for instance, it switches to male

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #16)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:19 AM

103. And, for a long time, hurricanes. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:15 PM

17. Siri can be set to male or female voices

It also works in lots of different languages and accents. For example, in English you can select American, British, or Australian accents.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:15 PM

18. female voice cuts through ambient noise better than male voice

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:20 PM

19. So that she would have the patience

 

for these users...

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Response to Sailor65x1 (Reply #19)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:57 PM

67. That was one funny skit!

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Response to Sailor65x1 (Reply #19)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:09 PM

115. This skit always cracks me up!!!

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Response to Sailor65x1 (Reply #19)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:36 PM

122. That was funny as hell. He and Alexa need their own show.

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Response to politicaljunkie41910 (Reply #122)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 03:09 PM

133. ODESSA!!!!

 

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:23 PM

20. Why not female?

 

If they defaulted to a male voice, we’d probably have a thread complaining “why not a female?”

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Response to PatentlyDemocratic (Reply #20)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:26 PM

22. Why not male or female? Why not gender neutral? It's a machine, not a person. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:29 PM

27. What's a gender neutral voice?

Any examples?

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #27)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:35 PM

32. Some of the voices on voice mail are gender neutral. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #32)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:37 PM

37. So a robotic voice?

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #37)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:38 PM

39. Why not? It's a robot. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #39)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:42 PM

44. No, it's not a robot. It's a purchasing device.

That's the thing that you're either missing or ignoring/playing around.

The whole point of Alexa is to get you to buy things from Amazon's service.

And a robotic voice would not do that.

The voice as programmed so far, and being updated and adjusted, makes listeners/those engaged with it more likely to buy from it.

It's the difference between dealing with someone personable at a store counter or an asshole at the counter that doesn't want to be there.

A human female voice or a robot voice.

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #44)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:45 PM

47. Then why is the "personable" default not male? Can't males be helpful?

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #47)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:50 PM

52. Because the default has long proven to be female in this regard

It's pretty much what you see in most stores. It's what you get with most non-robotic voicemail systems that you have to navigate through. I don't have the materials on hand but it's been shown time after time through marketing research and the like. It's not like it's a new thing. It's a thing for a reason.

I do agree that they should offer both - and as noted above I wish they had a HAL option for me - but it's been socially embedded in our consciousness for decades, especially for "SF" stuff like the computer in Star Trek.

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #52)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:56 PM

64. I agree -- it's been socially embedded. It's part of a pattern that we are all more programmed

to view the female voice as the server, not the male.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #64)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:06 PM

76. As well programmed to view the the American accent as servile as well.

As well programmed to view the the American accent as servile as well.

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #76)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:38 PM

82. There isn't one American accent -- and no, we're not programmed to view "the"

American accent as more servile than the British, New Zealand, or Australian-English accent, etc.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #82)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:33 PM

137. As an american, culturally there IS an artifact on accents. Servants, butlers, etc, are typically

given a European accent. Tony Stark's Jarvis. Batman's Alfred Pennyworth. Clue's Wadsworth. IBM's 'Ask Jeeves'. TV Tropes and Movie Tropes reflect a british accent, to an American, being more refined/knowing/sage, etc.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #137)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:43 PM

138. To people who watch PBS, maybe. nt

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #138)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:57 PM

139. None of the examples I gave you are on PBS.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #137)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 07:00 PM

140. Who is Jeeves?

Reginald Jeeves, usually referred to as Jeeves, is a fictional character in a series of comedic short stories and novels by English author P. G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is the highly competent valet of a wealthy and idle young Londoner named Bertie Wooster.

Jeeves - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeeves

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #140)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 07:49 PM

141. I was referring to the Ask Jeeves service which was a natural language query assistant.

The persona was a british-accented character that wore a pin-striped butler type suit. That system lost out to google, and is defunct, with whatever is left now being the basis for 'Ask.Com'.

The Mascot for Ask Jeeves was based on that Wodehouse series.

I did incorrectly identify it as IBM's effort. Ask Jeeves was a separate commercial enterprise. IBM's effort is called Watson, which used to have a predictably british accent. (Based on Sherlock's assistant.) Only recently has it been given an American male voice layer for appearances on Jeopardy, etc.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #22)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:31 PM

29. Why does it have an American accent?


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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:29 PM

28. Why do women's bathrobes have narrow sleeves and men's have wide ones?

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Response to applegrove (Reply #28)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:38 PM

40. Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?

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Response to writerJT (Reply #40)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:42 PM

45. Ha! That is an oldie but a goodie.

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Response to writerJT (Reply #40)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:22 PM

78. Why do we cook bacon and bake cookies?



I always envisioned siri and alexa as my local librarian info desk woman. She's always been extra helpful.

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Response to writerJT (Reply #40)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:00 AM

99. Is it wetter under water if you stand there in the rain? And is it closer

to New York than it is by train?

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:31 PM

30. Ships are female

Warships are often named after men but are generically all female.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #30)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:36 PM

33. You mean that MEN have decided to call them female, for some inexplicable reason. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #33)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:38 PM

41. Not inexplicable.

Not inexplicable.

"One prosaic explanation is that the gender of the Latin word for “ship” — Navis — is feminine. But people generally agree on the more romantic notion of the ‘ship as a she’ phenomenon: that it stems from the tradition of boat-owners, typically and historically male, naming their vessels after significant women in their lives — wives, sweethearts, mothers. Similarly, and more broadly, ships were once dedicated to goddesses, and later also to mortal women of national or historic significance, thereby bestowing a benevolent feminine spirit on the vessels that would carry seafarers across treacherous oceans. Figureheads on the prows of ships were often depictions of such female namesakes, denoting the name of the ship for a largely illiterate maritime population. This practice dated from the early 18th century, before which superstition had it that the presence of women aboard sailing vessels — whether in human or representative form — was an omen of bad luck. The practice of naming boats and ships after women continues today, although certainly not exclusively, as does the habit of feminizing our sailing vessels."

(To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World ~ Arthur Herman)

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:35 PM

31. The gadget is named Alexa, not Alex, hence its female gender.

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Response to LonePirate (Reply #31)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:37 PM

35. Why didn't they name it Alex, which nowadays is both a male and female nickname? n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #35)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:47 PM

48. after testing various names, the team landed on a word Alexa, that used soft vowels and an "x."

"The problem was choosing a word that people didn't ordinarily use in everyday life. "Computer" wouldn't cut it. So after testing various names, the team landed on a word Alexa, that used soft vowels and an "x." It sounded fairly unique..."

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-amazon-called-it-alexa-2016-7

(insert "why didn't they choose another word that used soft vowels and ended in a an "x?" for the sake of the inane)

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #48)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:52 PM

54. "Alex" and "Alexa" both have a soft vowel (in the unaccented syllable) and an x. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #54)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:55 PM

61. Read the article in full. More explanation. Somewhat more complex.

Read the article in full. More explanation. Somewhat more complex.

But this could be hint: " a word that people didn't ordinarily use in everyday life...."



Although I'm beginning to think you're fishing for a particular answer, as many have been provided to you, yet dismissed with no reason.

If that's the case, why not give us the answer you desire, and we'll respond with that one...?

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #48)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:01 PM

73. Actually, you can change the wake up word to computer now

Some Star Trek fans were delighted. It’s still a female voice, though.

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Response to Orangepeel (Reply #73)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:04 PM

74. I think this was in regards to the early prototypes and designing for that

I think this was in regards to the early prototypes and designing for that, rather than the mass market at it currently stands.

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #74)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:14 PM

77. Being able to call it computer? Thats relatively new

In the beginning, it was only “Alexa” or “Echo”

Amazon sends “what’s new” emails pretty often

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Response to LanternWaste (Reply #74)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:13 PM

117. Ours is brand new and her name is computer.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:37 PM

36. Finally someone isolates the critical issue of our time.

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Response to writerJT (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:54 PM

60. Lol

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Response to writerJT (Reply #36)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:31 PM

80. Don't laugh. It's the new campaign strategy

Winning back the % of white female voters who voted for Trump

Hence, the new 'gender war' at every turn

And before someone alerts on my post for "bashing" or whatever, please note I didn't say whether or not it's a good idea

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:39 PM

42. Have you ever heard of a guy named Alexa?

Well, have you?

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Response to underpants (Reply #42)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:43 PM

46. Oh. Is there some reason they had to give it a feminine name? Alex would have been more neutral. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #46)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:59 PM

72. I don't think anyone has argued they "had to" give it that name. Only that they chose to.

I don't think anyone has argued they "had to" give it that name. Only that they chose to.

(and numerous possibilities as to why it was chosen have been pointed out in such a way as to allow even a fifth grader to understand, and allowing anyone to seek out more objective answers if the curiosity is in fact, sincere)

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:40 PM

43. Idea here - ask Alexa

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:48 PM

49. Because the computer on the Enterprise is female.

It didn't start with Siri.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #49)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:51 PM

53. And I believe in SF most male oriented voices for computers have turned evil

Less so with female ones.

Damn HAL and Skynet.

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #53)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:53 PM

57. Oh damn! You're right.

Amazon just saved our ungrateful asses from the robot apocalypse.

Thank you, Alexa.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #57)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:55 PM

63. A lot of the reality is that most people don't view female voices as "threatening" when you get down

to it. And when you want to introduce a new technology that you want to expand, you go non-threatening in a big way. So I'm sure skynet has learned that and renamed itself to Alexa.

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Response to Blue_Adept (Reply #63)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:56 PM

65. That makes sense.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #49)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:57 PM

68. Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Star Trek's iconic computer voice is back for Discovery, and possibly your phone. Star Treks' original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager all have one actor in common: Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry).

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:49 PM

51. Why is Alexa creepy?

Seriously, all those voice automated robots give me the skeeves.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:53 PM

56. The voice I use for Siri is a male Australian.

I call him Siri_Hugh Jackman.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:53 PM

58. I'd heard/read somewhere that synthesized voices with female characteristics...

I'd heard/read somewhere that synthesized voices with female characteristics were easier to make sound more natural and less robotic. (It could be for technical reasons, or it could be that when a human hears the softer and higher-pitched computer-generated voice, the mechanical flaws aren't so easily noticed.)

I sincerely doubt it has anything to do with gender roles and female subservience.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:55 PM

62. Probably so it won't sound like mansplaining...



That's my guess.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:56 PM

66. Soft, clear female voices appear to be the go to option for narration or information.

Except for war related stuff, when male voices work better.

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Response to Blue_true (Reply #66)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:58 PM

69. Very true. Though I'd tale an Idris Elba version of Alexa anytime to provide information.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 04:58 PM

70. The article states that

men AND women prefer a female voice. Women are generally considered more empathetic, better listeners, and more patient than men. Ideal qualities for a customer service representative, even a synthetic one.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:06 PM

75. You can make Siri male

Male or female and with an American or British accent.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 05:23 PM

79. It's funny since science supposedly says that men don't really hear female voices.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:27 PM

84. They have a more pleasant voice. Can you imagine your GPS saying

make a U-turn when possible over and over. How about the self checkout at the store "place item in
bagging area" every time you scan a package. I picture Michelle on Garmin to be a nice young 20 year old lady..
Not a grumpy old man.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:32 PM

85. I thought it was good for single guys

I mean it is nice to hear a nice soothing voice you know... even if it isn't really real. Yeah it doesn't have to be female that's a given.

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Response to vercetti2021 (Reply #85)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 07:01 PM

91. I would like a deep sexy male voice for my personal assistant.

Why do I get funny looks when I tell that to the sales people in the apple store?

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Response to crazylikafox (Reply #91)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 07:03 PM

92. I don't know

I guess since they don't carry that, it's just odd to them.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:39 PM

86. "We don't assign genders to objects in English"

You mean, except for ships, planes, spacecraft, etc?

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:49 PM

87. FWIW

Siri uses a jaunty male Aussie voice on my phone. No particular reason for it other than I like it. I wish I could choose voices for Alexa though.

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Response to cagefreesoylentgreen (Reply #87)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:16 AM

102. Mine is British

He sounds rather like Russell Brand. I love it when he says, "Shall I shedyoual (schedule) that for you?"

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:54 PM

88. When you want obedient....

make it female.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #88)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 10:58 PM

98. Does this thought cross your mind when you speak

to customer service representative who happens to be female?

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Response to John Fante (Reply #98)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 11:08 AM

109. No, it doesn't. I thought that the smilie indicated that I thought

Last edited Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:32 PM - Edit history (1)

it was ridiculous.

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Response to ehrnst (Reply #109)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:27 PM

120. My apologies, I thought you were serious.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:55 PM

89. Star Trek has influenced so much of our tech in real life.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 06:58 PM

90. Because men are sexist pig men! (Is that the answer you're fishing for? Do I get a cookie?) n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 07:09 PM

93. When I asked Siri if she was a man or a woman, she said "I am Siri".

still waiting for that deep male sexy voice

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Response to crazylikafox (Reply #93)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 07:15 PM

95. Well, I figured out how to change the voice gender, but there was no Barry White option.

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Response to crazylikafox (Reply #93)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 09:13 PM

96. Alexa says I am female in character

She also says “I’m afraid I can’t change my voice”

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Mon Feb 12, 2018, 09:36 PM

97. Besides, if they'd used a male voice there'd be 'mansplaining' complaints

Everything a company does is going to get slammed in one direction or another for being unfair. I just think there's this long history of women working in telephone reception jobs. So instinctively they went with a female AI voice. Had they switch then to a male voice people would be complaining that someone who gives you a bottomless well of scientific information and driving directions doesn't have to be a man

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:07 AM

100. Both of my iPhones, home and work are set to British English

And have a male voice.

Absolutely no Social Justice reason for it. I just like being different.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:13 AM

101. Who knows

I made my phone GPS a male with a British accent just because I didn't like the voice it came with.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:29 AM

104. Why not bring back this guy?

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:41 AM

105. Siri is flexible. You can set it to male or female.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:47 AM

106. Because women are smarter and more trustworthy

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Response to nini (Reply #106)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:32 AM

107. Seeing a couple young children boss their Alexa around,

I suspect it's because most people still like the idea of a Mommy granting their every wish.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #107)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:06 PM

112. Sometimes a machine is just a machine.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #112)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:01 PM

134. A machine is just an "it." It doesn't have a gender unless its marketers give it one. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #134)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:16 PM

135. Consider that the Alexa/Hey Google/Siri/Cortana/ad nauseum devices aren't marketed at all.

Not in the traditional sense. Amazon doesn't care if it sells a dozen or ten million of them. Amazon isn't in the business of selling Alexa enabled devices. Those devices, including cars, webkits, all that stuff, is just loss leader. They don't care about it.

They want those devices to sell you OTHER stuff, by making the ability to buy things available at the mere effort of your voice, and also to gather marketing data on you.

That's all it is folks. It's an 'it'. It has a friendly female persona because it was found by one or more research bodies to appeal more to a broader audience, and increase the sales of the things the Alexa storefront (think of it as that, and nothing more, a storefront for Amazon) exposes to the consumer.

Edit: Alexa will offer a male persona at some point. To capture more market that Alexa doesn't appeal to, just as Siri has a male persona already.

I did start talking about Cortana and Siri and Hey Google, which are more 'digital assistants' than 'digital storefronts' than Alexa is, but that's just temporary/part of the whole picture. Microsoft has already integrated Cortana with Alexa, shifting the landscape away from Hey Google a bit.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 07:33 AM

108. Put Antonio Banderas on one and I'll buy it!

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 11:13 AM

110. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

https://www.cnn.com/2011/10/21/tech/innovation/female-computer-voices/index.html

...The fuss over Siri's sex also raises a larger question: From voice-mail systems to GPS devices to Siri and beyond, why are so many computerized voices female?

One answer may lie in biology. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women's voices more pleasing than men's.

"It's much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes," said Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, author of "The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships." "It's a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices."

Research suggests this preference starts as early as the womb, Nass said. He cites a study in which fetuses were found to react to the sound of their mother's voice but not to other female voices. The fetuses showed no distinct reaction to their father's voice, however.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 12:01 PM

111. Because male computers kill you, e.g. HAL

Though Alexa does have a HAL response when you tell it to shut the pod bay doors.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:31 PM

121. You're not the 1st to ask this question

per this article on CNN (from 2011):

One answer may lie in biology. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women's voices more pleasing than men's.

"It's much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes," said Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, author of "The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships." "It's a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices."


But this is not the definitive answer.

Wired had an article from 2015 which blamed it on sexism Siri and Cortana Sound Like Ladies Because of Sexism

But that is not the definitive answer either

The WSJ reported that Americans may prefer female voices for their digital assistants but they called for more options.

Dr. MacDorman at IU has his opinion:

the data showed that women and men expressed ​explicit preference for female synthesized voices, which they described as sounding “warmer” than male synthesized voices.


Anyone who thinks that its a simple answer and can be changed with the wave of a wand is...well...naive.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 01:41 PM

123. And people say DU doesn't tackle the big issues of today.

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Response to progressoid (Reply #123)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:12 PM

125. .

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #125)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:45 PM

129. +1

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:05 PM

124. Amazon needs to borrow a page from TomTom

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:20 PM

126. The first natural language personal assistant

was AskJeeves.com Based on a male British butler metaphor.

Long before Siri or Alexa.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:24 PM

127. She has a pleasant voice. There is no need for over-analization. nt

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:25 PM

128. I renamed mine Giskard, in hopes that soon, it will know what I want telepathically.

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Response to CrispyQ (Reply #128)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:51 PM

130. not R. Daneel? n/t

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Response to melm00se (Reply #130)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 03:09 PM

132. I've loved Giskard since the early robot stories.

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 02:52 PM

131. Hell, everybody knows that "Amazons" are female. As good of logic as any.

 

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Response to pnwmom (Original post)

Tue Feb 13, 2018, 06:27 PM

136. Mommy. Sister. Non-threatening. Supportive.

Why else?

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