Implicit in any technical process or system are the biases of those writing the code that will govern the actions of that respective technical system or process. I’m not throwing shade at developers in saying that, but rather highlighting that we all suffer from implicit biases — whether known or not — and those biases get baked into the software solutions we develop and deliver.
We’ve written about it before, but I think it bears repeating because there are some pretty fascinating solutions on deck aimed at combatting some common but probably unrecognized variants of this. Namely, the interface of the future, natural language processing (NLP), is confined to binary voice characteristics unnecessarily. Enter the genderless voice AI ‘Q’.
Why do our vocal assistants’ voices matter?
Quoting a great paragraph from Mark Wilson in Fast Company:
“Voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are women rather than men. You can change this in the settings, and choose a male speaker, of course, but the fact that the technology industry has chosen a woman to, by default, be our always-on-demand, personal assistant of choice, speaks volumes about our assumptions as a society: Women are expected to carry the psychic burden of schedules, birthdays, and phone numbers; they …