Which Voice is best for Digital Assistants?

“Conversational computing” is a growing high-tech field that is solving interaction inefficiencies (finger-typing on tiny screens) but are also opening up new dimensions of relating to our devices that can reinforce social/cultural stereotypes.

Do you like your Digital Assistant from Google, Apple or Amazon to be female? Male? Educated-sounding? What does that mean, even?  In the English-speaking world, for example, are British accents (think Jarvis) more educated than Southwestern American?

The teams behind Google Home, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Viv, Amazon’s Echo with Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana—all need to balance their users’ gender, cultural and emotional biases. Whew.

Good reading here at NYTimes, article by Quentin Hardy.

Google Assistant “is a millennial librarian who understands cultural cues, and can wink at things,” said Ryan Germick, who leads the personality efforts in building Google Assistant. “Products aren’t about rational design decisions. They are about psychology and how people feel.”

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