Friday, January 26, 2018

Do you call your AI a "he," "she," or "it"?

I agree with Tim Carmody on this.

This is one reason why I am at least partly in favor of what I just did: avoiding gendered pronouns for the voice assistant altogether, and treating the device and the voice interface as an “it.”

He continues.

An Echo or an iPhone is not a friend, and it is not a pet. It is an alarm clock that plays video games. It has no sentience. It has no personality. It’s a string of canned phrases that can’t understand what I’m saying unless I’m talking to it like I’m typing on the command line. It’s not genuinely interactive or conversational. Its name isn’t really a name so much as an opening command phrase. You could call one of these virtual assistants “sudo” and it would make about as much sense.

Many drivers I met referred to Waze as "siya," a Filipino pronoun used to refer to human beings. Situations like that make me want to remind them that they're taking orders from a phone app. Of course I don't bother with the correction and just pretend that I'm sleeping. Driving alone in the horrible Metro Manila traffic must be lonely, and listening to the Waze lady is likely the closest thing they have to a conversation.



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