There is an imbalance in voice assistant technology, Siri, Cortana and Alexa are all women. We’re not going to dive into the reason behind the gender imbalance Unlike Alexa or Siri, the voice of the new Q is intentionally neither female nor male and we love it!
Q was created by a group of linguists, technologists, and sound designers, Q hopes to “end gender bias” and encourage “more inclusivity in voice technology.” They recorded the voices of two dozen people who identify as male, female, transgender, or non-binary in search for a voice that typically “does not fit within male or female binaries.” To find this voice, the Q team conducted a test involving over 4,600 people, who were asked to rate the voice on a scale of 1 (male) to 5 (female).
From this experiment, audio researchers were able to define a frequency range which is gender neutral. They recorded several voices, working on the pitch, the tone and the format filter and finally achieved “Q.”
Have a listen:
It’s been widely documented that regardless of the listener’s gender, people typically prefer to hear a male voice when it comes to authority, but prefer a female voice when they need assistance.
On Women’s Day, we wrote about gender bias in AI development and how Alexa is tackling harder questions than just being a female voice assistance. Gendered voice assistants reinforce gender bias and it’s a problem in AI because our robots are learning from data trained on human behavior.
What is great about this moment in human history is if we take the time to be aware of inequalities in society we can fix them moving forward.
Q is challenging gender stereotypes while encouraging tech companies to take societal responsibility when it comes to diversity and inclusivity.
If you haven’t taken the time to read: Alexa: The hardest working women in AI, I suggest you do. There are important questions that we need to ask our selves as we enter an era of teaching robots about society.