This is just wondrous:
AI assistants with female voices are fuelling gender bias and reinforcing the patriarchy with submissive and coquettish responses to men, the UN has said.
Services such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri suggest that women are “docile helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command like ‘hey’”, the organisation said.
Feminists have previously criticised the technology companies for perpetuating Victorian stereotypes of women as subservient and men as masterful by casting digital assistants as female.
Now the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Unesco, has said in a report that the assistants “replicate patriarchal ideas”. “In many communities this reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment,” the authors wrote.
The female version of Siri in particular provided the illusion of “a heterosexual female, tolerant and occasionally inviting of male sexual advances and even harassment”. The report highlighted Siri’s response when told by a reporter: “You’re a slut.” On different occasions, the reply was: “I’d blush if I could,” “Well, I never!” and “Now, now.”
Such design was the result of tech companies’ “overwhelmingly male engineering teams”, the researchers said. They noted that there had been no mention in multiple testimonials of a man changing a female voice to male.
Among recommended changes is a requirement that digital assistants “announce” they are not human at the start of interactions with people. Tech companies should stop giving the assistants female voices by default and users should have a choice on sign-up, including a gender-neutral option, the team said.
We can write the rest of the whine on autopilot, can’t we? Except the next sentence is just delicious:
Siri has a male voice by default in the UK.