Apple plans to update Siri in iOS 15.4 with less gendered phrasing, according to The Verge . The default voice option will now be called Voice 2 instead of Voice 1, which was previously female and referred to as her rather than him or it. Apple also plans to remove some female-specific phrasing, such as references to marriage and families, although some of this terminology may remain in the UK, where Siri was born. Apple Wants to Make Siri More Gender Neutral
What is Siri?
Apple’s voice assistant, first introduced in 2011 with iOS 5 and later named after an original operating system that debuted on Macintosh computers in 2001. Also see: Alexa (Amazon), Google Assistant, Cortana (Microsoft), Samsung Bixby and so many more.
What happens now?
In a new statement, Apple has said that it’s working on giving Siri a gender-neutral voice option. It appears that it will use advanced speech recognition and natural language processing technology to make Siri speak in a more neutral way. The announcement also reveals that all of its voices would be localized by region in an effort to better reflect users.
Why does this matter?
The world would be a better place if technology treated everyone equally. It’s just not possible for computer-generated voices to be completely gender-neutral, but Apple is making it less apparent that you’re talking to a woman or man. In iOS 15.4, you’ll now have three options for Siri—male, female, and neutral. Pick your voice based on how you feel most comfortable using it. Personally?
What about Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana?
The reality is that AI’s still a man’s world. According to Carnegie Mellon University research, women are consistently underrepresented in nearly every field related to AI. For example, a survey conducted by Karen Catlin—founder of Paradigm4, an organization dedicated to increasing gender diversity in technology—found that only 6 percent of Google’s total staff is made up of women. A recent analysis from The Verge found that Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft employ roughly 16 percent female engineers each.