Research Finds AI Voice Assistants Encourage Sexual Harassment - Sexual Harassment Legal Blogs Posted by Sidney L. Gold - Lawyers.com

Research Finds AI Voice Assistants Encourage Sexual Harassment

In the last few years, the rise in popularity for artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistants prompted families and homeowners nationwide to adopt assistants to ask them questions, operate appliances, listen to news reports, and even play their favorite songs. Unfortunately, despite the value and entertainment assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s assistant bring, facets that appear innocuous may spread toxic sexual harassment practices and perpetuate gender stereotypes. UNESCO published a new study that examines how AI voice assistants may cause damage.What Voice Assistants SayThe study uncovered that the models used to program the assistants appear docile and accept any verbal abuse and sexual harassment as typical and tolerable. Among other factors, the study discovered that the problem lies within the programming of the assistants. Many programmers who developed voice assistants are male. The lack of diversity in Silicon Valley means that the wide variety of voices and personalities throughout the world remain underrepresented. A significant drop in the number of women studying computer and information science may be an underlying factor as well. When originally developed, a female voice was used for the assistants contained in household appliances. Yet, driving and GPS applications feature male voices.When a user of the AI assistant engages in verbal sexual harassment, the assistants may respond with stereotypically female replies or in a submissive way. Depending on the phrasing or comment, the assistant may issue a grateful response, flirtatious answer, or with friendly oblivion. Even though the companies producing the voice assistants insist that they are genderless, the report indicates that every trait demonstrated by the assistants, including the name, voice, speech, and personality, appears female.Study Recommendations for Voice AssistantsSince the development of voice assistants, no significant changes in the programming of the personalities and responses have occurred. The latest study offers recommendations to eliminate gender stereotyping and reduce the influence of sexual harassment in the responses coming from the assistants. On a small scale, the language programmed into the assistants must be altered to avoid misogynistic responses and eliminate toxic language. Another option is to create assistants of both genders. One of the most important points brought up in the study is the lack of diversity in the computer programming industry. By encouraging women to study technology, they may be able to become part of the solution to the problem of the gender stereotyping coming from the voice assistants.

View Attorney Profile

Sidney L. Gold

Licensed since 1975

Member at firm Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C.

AWARDS

AV Preeminent
Champion Badge Silver

RECENT POSTS

  • Disciplinary Actions for Physicians
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    Physicians are held to high standards of behavior, and preserving their public images is inexorably linked to maintaining their professional careers. Medical boards can take action against doctors that behave inappropriately on their own time or on the job, depending on the state. Medical licenses are issued by state medical boards, and they also have ... Read more

  • Can Employees Turn Down Raises and Promotions?
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    Although it is not a common occurrence, employees have been known to turn down pay raises and promotions. Employees may not understand the best way to tell their employers this, and in turn, the employers might also be in the dark about handling the situation. Reasons for Declining Declining raises and promotions makes financial sense ... Read more

  • Franchisee Employment Verification Lawsuit
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    A Massachusetts-based coffee and doughnut franchise company recently sued several franchisees in Delaware and Pennsylvania, demanding that they cease operations. The company had previously terminated their franchise agreements because the operators failed to provide complete documentation showing that their employees were eligible to work in the U.S. The franchisees were also accused of keeping inaccurate ... Read more

Sidney L. Gold

Licensed since 1975

Member at firm Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C.

AWARDS

AV Preeminent
Champion Badge Silver

RECENT POSTS

  • Disciplinary Actions for Physicians
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    Physicians are held to high standards of behavior, and preserving their public images is inexorably linked to maintaining their professional careers. Medical boards can take action against doctors that behave inappropriately on their own time or on the job, depending on the state. Medical licenses are issued by state medical boards, and they also have ... Read more

  • Can Employees Turn Down Raises and Promotions?
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    Although it is not a common occurrence, employees have been known to turn down pay raises and promotions. Employees may not understand the best way to tell their employers this, and in turn, the employers might also be in the dark about handling the situation. Reasons for Declining Declining raises and promotions makes financial sense ... Read more

  • Franchisee Employment Verification Lawsuit
    Posted on August 15, 2019

    A Massachusetts-based coffee and doughnut franchise company recently sued several franchisees in Delaware and Pennsylvania, demanding that they cease operations. The company had previously terminated their franchise agreements because the operators failed to provide complete documentation showing that their employees were eligible to work in the U.S. The franchisees were also accused of keeping inaccurate ... Read more