If you use an AI-enabled voice assistant, chances are it is in a female voice. Though there is always a way to change it to a male voice, the core technology has been designed in such a way that it is either of the two ‘socially accepted’ genders.
In a bid to do away with the gender norms, a project by creative studio Virtue Nordic and the human rights festival Copenhagen Pride, in conjunction with social scientist Julie Carpenter, has given birth to what is called as the world’s first genderless AI voice, called Q.
Unlike the existing Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google, all of which have default female voice giving directions, indexing reminders, switching off your lights, playing music, and so on, Q is trying to fix the set definitions when it comes to tasks carried out by the digital assistants.
As Fast Company reports, Q solves a real problem that happens when technology fails to represent everyone. For instance, Siri, which has been a female voice for ages cannot be gender neutral.
For developing Q, the researchers sampled several real voices from non-binary people, combined them digitally, and created one master voice that cruises between 145 Hz and 175 Hz, right in between male- and female-normative vocal ranges.
The developers used real-human feedback to tune the voice at the gender-neutral point. The developers are now inviting tech firms to collaborate and offer Q as a third option for Siri and Alexa.