“Siri, what did I say about assigning gender roles?”
A question you may not have asked (at least to a voice/AI assistant), but one that needed to be stated. Thankfully, Apple is no longer defaulting to the “female voice” in their latest beta on iOS. As well, the company has added two new voices to Siri’s English selections, according to TechCrunch.
Two years ago, a United Nations report suggested female-voiced digital assistants “reinforce commonly held gender biases.” While some studies have shown both men and women respond better to female voices, it’s still unnerving that tech companies assume your assistant is (virtually) female. (Side note: Your writer can’t find the article where he first read this, but one writer he follows said they switched Alexa’s voice to male because they started getting unnerved at screaming orders at a female voice … and yes, you will yell at them, because voice assistants are still imperfect.)
“We’re excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when they set up their device,” a statement from Apple notes. “This is a continuation of Apple’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.”
For an example of the two new English-speaking voice options, click below:
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