Most of us have used Siri, Alexa, Cortana or Google Assistant to know about the new and trending songs or to browse through the lanes of the city. Our artificial intelligence (AI) mates are also clubbed in gender boxes just as we humans are. However, this might not be the case in the near future.
Several interest groups that include Vice Media’s global ad agency Virtue Nordic, Copenhagen Pride, Equal EI – a public interest group, researchers, and various sound and production studios have joined hands to give birth to what they call a genderless AI voice. It is named Q.
Q started out as a creative project to spread the word that a genderless world is a future. Q was introduced to the world at the music and tech festival held at Austin, Texas in April this year. As we try to make the world a more inclusive place, it is imperative that this is done in all walks of life, including our digital world. To come up with the voice of Q, sound engineers tried to amalgamate the voice of 24 people who had different sexual identities. This, however, turned out to be a difficult affair. So, in order to sound gender neutral, the creators found a voice whose frequency was already between 145 hertz and 175 hertz and modified it to create Q.
How are other Voice Assistants Faring?
Most of the voice assistants have feminine voices. Yes, we can change our device’s settings to have a male voice assistance service but the experience ain’t out of the box for English speaking folks. Research has proven that both men and women prefer female voices as they are perceived “warm.” On the contrary, most voice commands in subways and streets have male voices as they are considered more influential and authoritative. These companies aren’t choosing to be sexists: they are serving us what most of us prefer.
All the technology companies will have to take efforts like Q seriously to be relevant in a world where the generation today is rooting for inclusiveness.