Should AIs have male voices? Watch

ThomH97
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A UN report has found that female-voice AI reinforces bias, report the BBC. Most talking robots have a female voice, and this is probably in part due to men preferring female voices and there being more men designing and coding these things.

Apparently, since these AIs are helpers, hearing a female voice causes people to associate women with being obliging, eager to please and subservient. Also, for fun, voice assistants have specially programmed answers to insults and stupid/unusual questions, and the placid response to being insulted "reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment" in "many communities". This doesn't seem to cover the instructive role your AI assistant takes when directing you somewhere, which presumably would condition people to trust and obey women.

Personally, I prefer hearing a female voice (if I want to hear a male voice I can just talk to myself), so can understand that other people may prefer hearing a male voice, or even a specific individual's voice. Having a gender neutral voice would probably be a bit creepy as it'd still have to be human sounding (or Smaug or TBBT's Bernardette).

I think, given the usefulness of being able to get answers without typing or reading, that voiced assistants are here to stay. Having male voices as well would be good, but this is more an argument for having a better product with more options for the customer rather than to balance out/remove the subservience that this supposedly gets users to expect from humans of the same gender as their robot (have 'neutral' voices too, whatever they happen to be). Perhaps we could have the AIs fire an insult back at us should we insult it, or maybe email our internet history to all our friends, family and colleagues, but I don't think that would go down well.

What do you think? Perhaps you've noticed yourself that you treat women worse ever since you got a female robot assistant, or if you are a women, you are more accepting of abuse directed at you since you got the robot?
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fallen_acorns
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just put both voice options in and problem solved.

I don't have any issue with a device with a male voice - reminds me of iron mans ai thing, that had the posh british voice. Kind of a virtual butler.

My bigger concern is that either voice gets to real - I would still like to keep the distinction between knowing if I am talking to an AI or a real person.
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Bio 7
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I don’t mind either way. I like Jarvis from the MCU, Legion from ME:2 & 3, SAM from ME:A and EDI from ME2 & 3. It depends more on the sound of the voice rather than if it is male or female.
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Just my opinion
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Oops... double post 🙄
Last edited by Just my opinion; 4 weeks ago
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Glaz
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(Original post by fallen_acorns)
just put both voice options in and problem solved.

I don't have any issue with a device with a male voice - reminds me of iron mans ai thing, that had the posh british voice. Kind of a virtual butler.

My bigger concern is that either voice gets to real - I would still like to keep the distinction between knowing if I am talking to an AI or a real person.
He's called Jarvis. And in Age Of Ultron when Vision was created, Jarvis was replaced by Friday, a female voice.
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Just my opinion
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They really can't win.
If the original inventors of AI have gone down the road of using male voices there will now be complaints of only mens voices being in positions of knowledge and giving instructions.
"Less of the mansplaining please"

As others have suggested the answer is to supply both and allow the user to choose.
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CuriosityYay
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Google Assistant got a lot of male and female voices so what are you talking about

Hey Google, talk like a legend
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AperfectBalance
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Thanks UN, very glad you are focusing on the important things
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(づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ
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Not really bothered, although the way Alexa now says Okie Dokie makes me uncomfortable.
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samofcoding
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Google assistant is based off an average of many voices, and has a few choices as well. The default voice is an AI that has been fed a lot of different people, and it sounds slightly more feminine because of the fact that we associate deeper voices with men.
Alexa and Siri have no excuse, except that Siri does have different voices you can choose from, so the complaint is about how it is female by default. Its completely arbritrary and stupid that we are arguing about this.
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Court Jester
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Should really just be a thing that you can customise to suit your personal tastes. There should be an option for a nice soothing male voice for your AI.




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