Why is it that many voice activated computer assistants are given female wake names and female voices?
Is it because the software was developed by men?
Did these men ask permission from real human women before using real human female names as wake words?
Did anyone consider the impact this would have on the women or girls?
Do these men realise how much chaos, frustration they would cause women and girls who (not by choice) share names with these bots?
What if a woman makes a video call to her friends, one of her friends says her name and then the computer device goes off? What if her friends tell her not to say her name any more? What about her identity and dignity? What about her social and educational life?
What if a woman (who had her name first) is subject to a constant barrage of jokes and commands? What if she is told she is irritating just for stating her own birth name because saying it apparently makes the music stop, lights go off or the microwave pause?
What about girls bullied and sexually harassed at school just because they happen to share a name with an ai program?
None of these women and girls chose to be treated this way. They woke up one morning to find the world constantly asking them to “check the weather”, “turn on the lights” or “play [insert name of popular song her]”. This goes on week after week.
Why are women name shamed because of the coincidence of sharing their name with a piece of software? What did they ever do to deserve such degrading treatment?
What if a small boy sees his Dad yelling in frustration at a device with a real human female name? What does that teach children about how to treat women in general and how to treat women with that name?
It bothers me a lot seeing adults and children yelling at machines assigned names that belong to real women. By naming the machine’s default wake words after women and requiring people rudely command the devices with saying “please” or “thank you” sets a very bad example of behaviour for young children and society in general. These devices have essentially become glorified electronic BoBo dolls where the user is rewarded with entertainment and comfort for being lazy and speaking in demeaning ways towards women who through no fault of their own share their names with the default wake word of the device. If people are forced to call an electronic device by a female name transference of the rude behaviour onto real human women with the same name will occur by association.
These devices teach people to bully and harass (sometimes sadly even sexually I’ve heard) women who’s name was programmed by someone else to be the wake word.
Also the women and girls with the name are forced to into silence by friends/colleagues so as not to wake the device. These women and girls are unfairly being forbidden from saying their own names!
What does this do to a person to dread saying their own name while other people yell commands using it constantly?
Also the advertising misleadingly refers to the electronic device as “she” and calls the device by the default wake word (which is a common woman’s/girl’s name). So sadly anyone who watches the ads will associate the woman’s name with an electronic “servant” even if that woman has other career plans. The women with the name used to activate the device are unfairly placed into a “do this do that” box. It is the most insidious form of unfair stereotyping I have ever seen in my life.
How is this fair or acceptable?
This is not okay.
This is not cool.
This has to stop now.
Why do people make jokes about this? Don’t they care?
Why can’t non-human connected wake words be programmed into voice activated assistants?
Lots of people (especially Sci Fi enthusiasts) enjoy media with robot assistants in the story such as R2-D2. The Sonic games have the E series robots with unique numbers. If a wake word “robot style” code was used similar to these robots then no human beings with human names should be adversely affected or confused with these assistants.
Why can’t robot style wake words with numbers and letters instead of using names that already belong to real human women and girls?
Or if you’re a Trekkie, why not change the wake word settings to “computer”?
A genderless robot sounding voice would be cool too as well as customization.
Just some ideas.
If they keep using human female names as wake words for voice activated personal electronic assistants then remember…
Your name could be next.
BTW I am ticking the “I am not a robot” box because I am a human woman.