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Why do AI voice assistants default to female voices?

Paper art depicting a laptop computer with a robot on the screen with a chat bubble next to its head.
Carol Yepes
/
Getty

Have you noticed that voice assistants like Alexa and Siri default to female voices?

This hour, we talk about how artificial intelligence is reinforcing gender biases.

Plus, a look at how representations of artificial intelligence in pop culture have contributed to this model.

GUESTS:

  • Kerry McInerney: Research fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and co-host of The Good Robot Podcast
  • Deborah Tannen: Distinguished university professor of linguistics at Georgetown University and author of You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation, among other books
  • Lisa Yaszek: Regents professor of science fiction studies in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech

The Colin McEnroe Show is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode!

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Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, Cat Pastor, and Lizzie Van Arnam contributed to this show, which originally aired March 6, 2023.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.