Voice assistant Siri encourages sexism by flirting with men who call it a sl*t, says UN
SIRI and Alexa are encouraging sexism with ‘flirty’ responses to men, according to the UN.
A report by Unesco has accused the operating systems of being ‘submissive’ and ‘flirtatious’, which it thinks could be reinforcing the harmful idea that women should be subservient.
Researchers found that when told “you’re a slut” Apple’s assistant Siri replied “I’d blush if I could,” “Well, I never!” and “Now, now.”
The report also claims that the tech assistants are “docile helpers”, even when faced with insults, which is said to be ‘entrenching’ gender biases and has the potential to cause harm.
According to the UN, submissive female AI assistants create the idea of “a heterosexual female, tolerant and occasionally inviting of male sexual advances and even harassment”.
The UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation said: “In many communities this reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment.”
Researchers blamed the “overwhelmingly male engineering teams” of Apple and Amazon, which programmes the Alexa virtual assistant.
They said the assistants “should not invite or engage in sexist language”.
Their report is called ‘I’d blush if I could’ and is calling for change so that future AI assistants won’t be flirtatious and could even have neutral voices.
It is worth noting that both Siri and Alexa can already be changed to have a male voice by their users but male sounding AI assistants appear to be less popular.
Unesco is also calling for more women to work on the tech teams who create these assistants.
The 146 page report summarised: “Companies like Apple and Amazon, staffed by overwhelmingly male engineering teams, have built AI systems that cause their feminised digital assistants to greet verbal abuse with catch-me-if-you-can flirtation.”
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Do you think that female voice assistants are enforcing sexist stereotypes? Let us know in the comments…