Features

XXIII.3 May + June 2016
Page: 34
Digital Citation

Gender and status in voice user interfaces


Authors:
Charles Hannon

“I didn’t understand the question that I heard.” This is the somewhat awkward response I get when Alexa, the AI personality of the Amazon Echo, doesn’t understand me. She could say, “I didn’t understand your question,” but as my assistant, she has been programmed to signal her lower status in our relationship, to take the blame for the miscommunication. Oh, and her voice and name signify “female,” so she needs to use I-pronouns at a higher rate than I do as well. Insights That’s right: In everyday speech, women and people with lower status in a relationship use I-words more…




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