March 13 2019

World’s First AI Genderless Voice Created to Stop ‘Exclusion’ by Smart Assistants

Talk to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa and you’ll notice a common trait: They both have female voices. While this…

Talk to Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa and you’ll notice a common trait: They both have female voices. While this can help make robotic assistants more relatable and natural to converse with, it has assigned a gender to a technology that’s otherwise genderless.

Now, researchers are hoping to offer a new alternative by launching what they’re calling the world’s first ‘genderless voice.’

The voice, called ‘Q’, was created by researchers from Copenhagen Pride, equality campaign organization EqualAI and Virtue, a creative agency under Vice, to be gender neutral.

To do this, they recorded voices from participants who identify as non-binary, or neither exclusively female nor male.

Researchers then tested the voice on 4,600 people across Europe.

Testers were asked to grade the voice between one and five, with one meaning a male voice and five a female one.

The voice was then modulated and tested again until it was widely perceived as gender neutral, the developers said.

After altering the pitch, format filter and tone of the voice, researchers found that a range of 145 and 175 hertz was a gender neutral frequency.

The higher the frequency, the more we perceive it as female; whereas, if the frequency is lower, we’re more likely to think the voice is male.

In launching Q, they hope to break down the rise of gender bias in smart assistants.

Experts say assigning a female voice to an AI assistant reinforces stereotypes that females are supposed to helpful, nurturing and caring. Additionally, that they’re more appropriate for administrative roles. (Read More)