HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » AI: Alexa & Siri Brave Ne...

Wed May 22, 2019, 05:11 PM

AI: Alexa & Siri Brave New World, The New Sexism, Same As The Old Sexism

Last edited Wed May 22, 2019, 08:11 PM - Edit history (1)

'Alexa, Why Does The Brave New World of AI Have All The Sexism Of The Old One?' By Yomi Adegoke, The Guardian, May 22, 2019. Virtual assistants such as Google Home and Siri only encourage the attitude that women exist merely to aid men in getting on with more important things.

When women are over-represented in the workforce, it tends be in industries of assistance – cleaning, nursing, secretarial work and, now, the world of virtual assistants. Research by Unesco has shown that using default female voices in AI – as Microsoft has done with Cortana, Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Assistant and Apple with Siri – is furthering the belief that women exist merely to help men to get on with more important things.

There is no real reason for AI technologies to be gendered at all, but we are at the mercy of tech companies “staffed by overwhelmingly male engineering teams”, fixated on living out a Captain Kirk fantasy and delegating to the subservient, silky-voiced computers of Star Trek. These systems are unapologetically built by men, for men. They can even struggle to understand the “breathy” voices of women as software is often developed with male voice samples.

When we think of robots – leading uprisings, carrying out efficient murders, accompanying human companions on coming-of-age adventures – they are almost always coded as male. Think Terminator, Star Wars, RoboCop, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Big Hero 6 and most sci-fi films of the 1980s. Their rarely portrayed feminised counterparts are love interests (Her), victims (Ex Machina) or sexualised to the point of lunacy (the “fembots” in Austin Powers, who shoot bullets from their nipples).



Voices with power tend to be male: take the murderous Hal 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Auto, a spaceship’s autopilot and main antagonist in Wall-E. Robots aren’t leading us on intergalactic sieges in real life, so it’s no surprise that it’s a woman’s voice politely requesting patience on the automated menu at the bank. It is telling, too, that while society has no problem with a disembodied female voice doing our bidding, many people struggle with one telling them what to do. In 2015, Tesco replaced the “bossy” woman’s voice at self-service checkouts, with a “friendlier, more helpful” male one.

The new research also highlights how virtual assistants are programmed to respond to harassment with the deflecting, tight-grinned replies..More, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/may/22/alexa-why-does-the-brave-new-world-of-ai-have-all-the-sexism-of-the-old-one

'Digital Assistants Like Alexa and Siri Entrench Gender Biases, Un Says,' The Guardian, May 22, 2019.
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/22/digital-voice-assistants-siri-alexa-gender-biases-unesco-says

5 replies, 632 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 5 replies Author Time Post
Reply AI: Alexa & Siri Brave New World, The New Sexism, Same As The Old Sexism (Original post)
appalachiablue May 22 OP
appalachiablue May 22 #1
MicaelS May 23 #2
appalachiablue May 26 #5
Aristus May 24 #3
appalachiablue May 24 #4

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Wed May 22, 2019, 05:25 PM

1. SAMO

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2019, 05:39 PM

2. I'm a white cis-male and I would rather have ...

A cultured male British accent virtual assistant. Think Jarvis in Iron-Man.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to MicaelS (Reply #2)

Sun May 26, 2019, 08:11 PM

5. Check it out, 'Dylan' from Amazon

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Fri May 24, 2019, 09:10 AM

3. I like Siri's sexy British accent.

That doesn't mean my thought process is: "Ha-ha. This puny, inferior female is serving me, the male master of all I survey".

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Aristus (Reply #3)

Fri May 24, 2019, 02:34 PM

4. Ok but we're not there yet. Having all 4 major AI products with

women's voices is blatant, outright sexism- Cortana, Google Asst., Alexa and Siri. I thought we passed this decades ago but apparently there's still a long way to go especially with SV. In the meantime, using women and minorities for service work (RL or AI) and enabling stereotypical, negative associations with 'servility' has to end.

Otherwise there's nothing stopping clerks, receptionists, waiters, cooks, domestic and service workers from being called demeaning names--'girl,' 'boy' and being perceived as inferior intellectually and incapable of high level work. In these regressive times we're looking at the return of 'little lady,' 'gal,' 'honey,' and 'boy,' 'fella,' and all that this stuff conveys.
------------------
>"Research by Unesco has shown that using default female voices in AI – as Microsoft has done with Cortana, Amazon with Alexa, Google with Google Assistant and Apple with Siri – is furthering the belief that women exist merely to help men to get on with more important things."

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread