Do You Want to Bang Your AI Assistant or Are You Normal?

Do You Want to Bang Your AI Assistant or Are You Normal?

I used to not care about my Siri preferences (as long as it didn’t sound American) but a colleague of mine pointed out how messed up it is that many of us are using a female-coded AI assistant to tell us things or set timers for us. 

This tidbit immediately made me change my Siri voice to a male-sounding voice, which, in all honesty, hasn’t bothered me as much as I thought it would. 

We all know Apple’s Siri, Google’s self-titled assistant and who can forget Amazon’s Alexa. Oh, and Samsung’s Bixby is still a thing too. 

While they’re all ‘competitors’ they have something in common, they are all programmed to have a female voice as the default voice. Which is odd.  

For this month’s Great Tech Debate, we asked people whether they use a male or female voice for their AI assistant and why.

There are a few psychological theories behind having a female voice, one is that women are better at enunciating words, and another is that people respond better to a female voice. An additional study showed that people react positively to female voices due to listening to our mother’s voice in the womb.

But I lowkey think it’s something psycho-sexual, I have zero peer-reviewed data to back up this statement, but prove me wrong!

Something I found interesting when researching for this month’s column is that Google and Apple don’t say the term ‘male’ or ‘female’ when choosing the type of voice you want. Google uses colours to distinguish the voices: red for the female voice, orange for the male voice and Apple uses ‘Voice 1’, which is male and ‘Voice 2’ which is female.

Anyway, let’s dive into the tech version of Battle of the Sexes!

Some very much do care about the type of voice they have 

Ashleigh, 29

[My AI assistant is] female, I don’t want a man talking to me in my own home. 

Courtney, 29

[My assistant is female] because I don’t want a man talking to me through my phone.

Emily, 23

My siri is male with Irish Voice 1, because it’s sexy and he’s my house husband who helps me get directions when I get lost, need help in the kitchen, etc. A real man could never.

Lauren, 28

I use a female voice because I have never bothered to try and change it from the default. 

Zac, 26

I don’t normally use voice assistants at all, but in my smart home, I use a male voice on my Google Pixel Tablet. Google’s preset male voice gives off a Marvel JARVIS-like vibe that I really like, but for the most part I’d rather just go without a voice assistant. What is your purpose? You set timers. 

Steph, 34

I have always used a male voice for Siri. It wasn’t really a decision I thought too deeply about at first – I just kind of felt like most people were using a female Siri, so I wanted my virtual assistant to be a dude, instead. I have never looked back. 

Red voice denotes female, orange denotes male, according to Google. Image: Athina Mallis/Gizmodo Australia

Some did not care at all about the type of voice on their AI assistant

Georgia, 29

I use the female voice for Siri on my phone/CarPlay. I think it just defaulted to that to be honest and didn’t have a need to change it. I’m comfortable with Barb, that’s what I call her.

David, 39

Female, but only because, like everything else on my iPhone, I have changed literally nothing from the default setting bc I don’t care about customisation.

Pia, 23

My Siri is female, I never really thought into it, I guess she might sound kinder. Alexa pisses me off so much I should try change it to keep things interesting!

Apple’s Siri choices. Image: Athina Mallis/Gizmodo Australia

One person changed their voice after we asked them about it

Alinah, 26

My Siri is female because it’s the default. But I’m gonna change that now.

And some don’t want tech talking to them at all 

Mateus, 28

None! Call me a luddite but I do not like my hardware to be anthropomorphised in the slightest. Every single smart speaker/voice assistant/whatever in my home that can speak back to me has been set up to not respond, and if it doesn’t have the option I won’t use it.    

Every month, Gizmodo Australia will dive into the minds and habits of young Aussies to see how they use technology and the way it shapes the world around them through our column The Great Tech Debate.

Some responses have been edited for clarity. 

Image: Warner Bros

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