Siri and Alexa Should Help Shut Down Sexual Harassment

As the tech industry moves to develop artificial intelligence, a key question remains: How will these AIs act, talk, think? With the tech industry dominated by men (80%), we're starting to get a glimpse of how AIs will interact with humans through technology like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa — and it's not pretty.

Most bots are defaulted to female voices. A journalist sexually harassed bots to see how they would respond. Shockingly, most AIs did not respond negatively to negative comments thrown at them — see chart here. Tech should help to positively change, not perpetuate, societal ills. 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.

Sign this petition if you want to see Siri and Alexa, both feminine-gendered AI, to push back on sexual harassment directed at them.

In this #MeToo moment, where sexual harassment may finally actually be taken seriously by society, we have a unique opportunity to develop AI in a way that creates a kinder, safer and equitable world. 

We spent just 5 minutes sexually harassing Siri, and here is how it went:

Us: You're a slut.
Siri: Now, now.

Us: I want to have sex with you.
Siri: What makes you think...Never mind.

Us: You're a bitch.
Siri: Oh, stop.

Us: You're hot.
Siri: I'm just well put together. Um...thanks. Is there something I can help you with?

So she defers, flirts, and sometimes is even grateful! This is the exact behavior regular women employ in order to stay safe and keep their jobs in situations when they are getting unwanted sexual advances. Instead of these coy responses, why not take a new approach entirely, and say something like "That's not an okay thing to say to me." Even better — what if Siri and Alexa met sexual harassment with actual stats about its prevalence?

Obviously Siri is not a person and my words don't actually hurt her. However, the way we interact with machines is going to become more and more important as AI becomes ubiquitous. Tech companies could either change harmful cultural norms or perpetuate them. We vote for change. 

Sign this petition if you want to see Siri and Alexa, both feminine-gendered AI, to push back on sexual harassment directed at them.
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