Are Our Computers Sexist?

20 Aug
2018

As AI develops, the capabilities continue to increase and the more human-like tasks computers can achieve fluidly. Of course, as the technology begins to do more of the same tasks that people can, we have taken strides to make interactions with computers more like interactions with people. There are a number of technologies that make strides toward this goal, including; humanoid robots, facial recognition, and lifelike avatars. The most prominent, and possibly the most important, however, is the voice.

Long before they could understand, people have talked to computers, mostly in frustration. Now, not only do they listen, they can respond, and in a way that seems natural and comprehensive. There is something particular that stands out about these computer voices. There are Siri, Cortana, and Alexa and there is something, other than being computer programs, that they all have in common. They all have women’s voices.

Psychology or Misogyny

Not only are the AI voices built to have the range of a female voice. They are algorithmically designed to follow speech patterns and use phrasing statistically related to women. While, being formatted to mimic female voice and speech patterns, these systems seem to have a lack, if not an omission of data on real women’s issues.

Surveys do suggest that members of both sexes seem inclined to prefer a woman’s voice for their electronic devices, but it may be for the wrong reasons. Users want their AI to seem compliant and non-threating. Members of both sexes seem to accept the female voice as better portraying the desired passive demeanor. Psychology suggests that the preference may have something to do with maternal bonding in the human brain. On the other hand, it is likely that the preference may have more to do with the societal acceptance of women as the secondary gender.

The Right Source for Results

Like so many other portrayals of women in today’s society, the voice may get the surface values right but there is an emptiness. Any real living woman only needs a few minutes to notice that these programs still seem to think more like men. There is only one active solution to this issue.

There needs to be a greater acceptance of woman in the AI field. While the number of women in the technology field continues to rise, many of their extraordinary ideas and innovations are overlooked or credited, instead to men. Often only making the cut after having much of the innovation unduly stripped from them. There is a big wave of change coming to the world of AI and it is sure to be led by powerful women.

These changes are coming to every industry and they are flooding in fast, including into the commercial air industry. It is our job to keep an eye on these issues because, while we are not directly associated with Ryanair Mag, we are frequent fliers and one of the best sources for honest review.