New Robot Assistant with Gender Neutral Tone


A new initiative, EqualAI, created a new system, Q, with gender-neutral features in its pitch and tone. Q system is stated to be launched on March 11, 2019.

Almost all the artificial intelligence (AI) assistants including Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant are featured with feminine features. This notion of service types of work is generally associated with women, as it runs deep into the patriarchy culture surrounding us. We have assigned the tone and pitch of softness for the AI-based assistance as it is generally perceived that women are to serve both virtually and real.

Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana have been assigned with female names along with a soothing and calm female voice. Even Google Assistant, the AI based assistant of Google speaks with a women’s voice. Apple’s Siri, have a male voice in certain region while a female voice dominates in other regions. Helen Hester, the feminist academic, has shown the naming of gadgets on the basis of the role it played. For instance, Siri was developed in 1987 as “Knowledge Navigator” and it was provided with male personas as it was to be seen as “a research assistant, an academic librarian and an information manager, rather than as a personal secretary”.

The EqualAI project is helping to stop against gender stereotyping in AI with a series of guidelines. It has developed a genderless voice named as Q, which is a blend of voices of five non-binary speakers and the pitches are shifted accordingly to reach a neutral note. The system is housed with a ready-to-use library as well as provides digital assistants for metro station, games, and other information.

We hope other AI based assistance thinks of abandoning the stereotypical notion of assisting with female voice and switch to genderless narrative as the EqualAI project’s system.


About Author

Bill Carr is a Senior Editor at Plains Gazette, based in Austin. Previously he has worked for FOX Sports and MSNBC's "Morning Joe." he is a graduate of the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. You can reach Bill via email or by phone