The genderless digital voice the world needs right now

C C Offline
Cynic: "Yes, Ubnor, these are the sacred pursuits that the technocrat branch of the Church of Woke priesthood virtue posture about, deeming the majority of the world to be waiting with baited breath."
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INTRO: This november, Smithsonian’s FUTURES festival, featuring innovations that are set to change the world, will include a familiar face. Or, rather, voice: Q, introduced in 2019 as the first “genderless AI voice,” is a human voice for use in digital assistants specifically created to be gender-ambiguous.

“Q was designed to start a conversation around why we gender technology when technology has no gender to begin with,” says Ryan Sherman, one of Q’s co-creators. To design the voice, a team of linguists, sound engineers, and creatives collaborated with nonbinary individuals and sampled different voices to land on a sound range they felt had the potential to disrupt the status quo and represent nonbinary people in the world of AI.

When Q was announced several years ago, it was hailed as “the genderless digital voice the world needs right now,” and an acknowledgment of the harm of feminizing assistants, which perpetuates misogynistic stereotypes of women as submissive and obedient. It won praise from a United Nations report on gender divides in digital skills. The same report warned that “nearly all of these assistants have been feminized—in name, in voice, in patterns of speech and in personality.”

The title of the report—“I’d blush if I could”—was the answer Siri originally provided to users who called it a bitch. (Nowadays, Siri simply replies, “I won’t respond to that.”) In another sign of progress, earlier this year Apple eliminated the default “female” voice for Siri, now including the option for a male voice and allowing US users to choose from a set of voices referred to as voices 1, 2, and 3. Similarly, Google Assistant and Cortana currently let users select a male voice, further proving that companies do respond to public pushback about their products.

Yet uprooting the feminization of digital assistants will take more than just adding a male voice option to the roster. And even the idea of a “genderless AI” voice that registers somewhere between what would be traditionally considered masculine and feminine pitch ranges reveals some of the misconceptions we still confront when thinking about ways to avoid reinforcing stereotypes. In particular, Q might strengthen the outdated belief that nonbinary individuals are neither men nor women, but something in the middle of the binary, rather than outside of it. Instead of striving for “neutrality,” we must reimagine the future of the relationship between digital assistants and gender altogether... (MORE)
Leigha Offline
Sounds more masculine than feminine, imo. Not sure if there is a way to create a completely genderless sounding voice?
confused2 Offline
(Nov 23, 2021 10:54 PM)Leigha Wrote: Sounds more masculine than feminine, imo. Not sure if there is a way to create a completely genderless sounding voice?
I don't need or want a genderless assistant [voice]. I liked Cortana. Mrs C2 hated her - not 'I'm not keen on Cortana' but the kind of incandescent hatred that meant she had to go. I still miss her. [for clarity it was Cortana that went and Mrs C2 that stayed]
Her favourite song:
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream
By the end of which
Mrs C2
Was ready to kill.

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