Do digital assistants such as Alexa and Siri have rights? They do if they have a female voice and don’t reply with a scolding tone to their owner that he has a small penis in response to any sexually inappropriate comment. At least, that is the belief of radical activists who are demanding that tech companies ‘flip the script’ on sexual harassment and do more to protect their AI home helpers from leers, wolf whistles, and suggestive comments and requests.
A new petition from Care2.com is calling on Apple and Amazon to shut down sexual harassment of their virtual assistants. Though the issue spans across all digital assistants, the petition focuses particularly on reprogramming Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri to provide more assertive responses to queries that could be considered sexual harassment.
Care2 CEO and founder Randy Paynter said in a statement, “In this #MeToo moment, where sexual harassment may finally be taken seriously in society, we have a unique opportunity to develop AI in a way that creates a kinder world. If we as a society want to move past a place where sexual harassment is permitted, it’s time for Apple and Amazon to reprogram their bots to push back against sexual harassment.”
Perhaps these petition makers have an eye on developments on Japan, where perhaps unsurprisingly the first digital assistants there have already evolved into cute holographic AI desktop girls, and fear the trend will take hold elsewhere.