38 – Gendered AI

The Mythcreant Podcast

Grace joins Oren, Mike, and Chris in discussing how artificial personalities are gendered. They mention computer voices in use today and the explanations given for their gender. They describe female and male robots and AI in science fiction, and how their depiction differs.

Technical note: We had a technical issue that reduced the sound quality for this episode. Sorry about that.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Apple’s Siri

Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey

Moon (2009 Film)

EDI in Mass Effect

Cylon Models in Battlestar Galactica

List of Female Transformers

Offspring, Star Trek: The Next Generation

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckle

Ted, April, and Buffybot from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  1. Claire

    Mike’s description of the Star Wars nanny-droid gave me flashbacks to this…

    As for why AI get gendered they way they do, there was a psychology article I read that people tend to find masculine voices more authoritative compared to feminine ones. So when a program starts talking with a masculine voice, it can feel like the user is being talked down to by an appliance. I’d heard that Siri’s voice was changed because its sounded more professional than the standard american one but I have no sources to back this up.

    On the topic of Gender AI, LGBTQ+ and Wider Spec Fiction would be an interesting topic to examine.

  2. Urulai

    Have none of you seen Transformers Prime?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I know Grace is a huge fan of Prime, and I’ve seen a fair number of episodes. Do you think it contains something relevant that we missed?

  3. Evil Genius

    Transformers do not have biological sex for reproduction, but do have sex for pleasure in relationships. There are canonically gay transformers, like Tarantulas, Prowl, and Knockout.

    New cybertronians transformers in the g1 era are made primarily by Alpha Trion. Transformers can make transformers on earth out of terrestrial scrap metal, but the resulting offspring are not as tough or intelligent as cybertronians (e.g. the dinobots or stunticons.) Even very intelligent humans can build transformers, like Nightbird. In g3, the beast era, which is ~300 years in the future, it is possible for transformers to make cybertronian transformers (assuming adequate supplies) without Alpha Trion’s help. Tarantulas, for example, does this, as does the Maximal high command to make Protoform X.

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