“Hey, Siri…”

May 22, 2019 · Print This Article

Then comes a female voice as if ‘she’ is waiting on our every request.

But apparently, this is a problem. Yes, we have a new front open in the fight against gender stereotypes and bias. The gender-bias warriors have protested at the default female voice of AI devices.

At the helm is Unesco’s recent report on the apparent harmful perception female AI voices can create about women. The report concludes, “it sends a signal that women are…docile helpers, available at the touch of a button…this reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment.”[1] And now with voice assistants managing an estimated one billion tasks per month, could this be affecting our view of women?

I don’t know about you but hearing the dulcet tones of my female Google Assistant telling me the answer to a question I should know doesn’t make me think of women as subservient any more than it makes me think of them as the font of all knowledge! For me, if someone starts treating or speaking to women like you would their Alexa or Android, then I suggest that someone has bigger problems than just a little gender bias!

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I think there is another question worth asking about this report. What’s wrong with being submissive, anyway?

Long gone are the days when being submissive was a virtue worth pursuing. In this age of male-female competition fuelled under the guise of equality, no one wants to submit to anyone or be seen as the ‘helping’ party.

No, I didn’t take a wrong turning back to the 19th century, nor am I advocating having a ‘door mat’ mentality, or meeting insults with appeasement. But I do think a little self-sacrifice, some relational yielding, goes a long way in making a relationship healthier.

I think it’s worth remembering this old bit of relational advice I once read: “Submit to one another.[2]

Maybe we’re getting too used to not submitting to one another. After all, Siri and Alexa are so much better at following our instructions; they don’t argue back – bliss! And with the research group, Gartner predicting by 2020 that “some people will have more conversations with voice assistants than with their spouses,”[3] this learning to live without submitting will only increase.

So this week let’s submit one to another, and in doing so, place value on who we most value.

Notes:

[1] https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000367416.page=1

[2] The Bible, Ephesians 5:21 (NIV)

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-48349102

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