Siri and Alexa spread sexism, UN study reveals

Voice-activated personal assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are reinforcing and spreading sexism, according to a recent United Nations study.

The feminine-voiced AI helpers, which also include Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana, perpetuate the harmful gender stereotype that women are subservient and tolerate being treated poorly, the report from UNESCO found.

“Because the speech of most voice assistants is female, it sends a signal that women are… docile helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command like ‘hey’ or ‘OK,’” the report says.

“The assistant holds no power of agency beyond what the commander asks of it. It honors commands and responds to queries regardless of their tone or hostility.”