Step aside, Siri. Move along, Alexa. Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence voice named "Q," which is neither male or female, "for a future where we are no longer defined by gender."
What are the details?
A collaboration of LGBTQ rights groups and technology firms created Q, which they say is the first genderless voice, for the purpose of "end[ing] gender bias in AI assistants." The developers argue that assigning a gender to a robotic assistant "reinforces a binary perception of gender, and perpetuates stereotypes that many have fought hard to progress."
For instance, according to the Daily Mail, "experts say a female voice to an AI assistant reinforces stereotypes that females are supposed to helpful, nurturing an caring. Additionally, that they're more appropriate for administrative roles."
In a promotion video announcing the launch, Q introduces itself, explaining: "Think of me like Siri or Alexa, but neither male nor female. I am created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender."
To create Q, researchers recorded the voices of individuals who identify as nonbinary — neither male nor female — and then modulated the collective pitch range. The group gathered feedback from 4,600 testers, tweaking Q until it was "widely perceived as gender neutral," the Mail reported.
So, what are they going to do with it?
Q's creators hope the voice will be picked up by major development firms like Google, Apple, and Amazon, as an alternative to the male and female options offered by other voice assistants.
Thomas Rasmussen, a spokesperson for Copenhagen Pride (a group that helped build Q), told the Mail, "With Q — a neutral voice with no preassigned gender — we aim to get the attention of leading technology companies that work with AI to ensure they are aware that a gender binary normativity excludes many people and to inspire them by showing how easily it would actually be to recognize that more than two genders exist when developing artificial intelligence devices."
"This is about giving people choices and options," he added. "It is about freedom and inclusion."