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Is Siri sexist? UN cautions against biased voice assistants

/ 11:48 AM May 23, 2019

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NEW YORK — Are the female voices behind Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa amplifying gender bias around the world?
The United Nations thinks so.

A report released Wednesday by the UN’s culture and science organization raises concerns about what it describes as the “hardwired subservience” built into default female-voiced assistants operated by Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

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The report is called “I’d Blush If I Could.” It’s a reference to an answer Apple’s Siri gives after hearing sexist insults from users. It says it’s a problem that millions of people are getting accustomed to commanding female-voiced assistants that are “servile, obedient and unfailingly polite,” even when confronted with harassment from humans.

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The agency recommends tech companies stop making digital assistants female by default and program them to discourage gender-based insults and abusive language.

TOPICS: Apple, gender issues, Siri, technology, United Nations, voice assistant
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