Is Alexa a Setback for Feminism?
Serena Wong

19 March 2018

Voice-activated personal assistants like Alexa and Siri are becoming increasingly popular, both with tech companies trying to capitalize on a new market and with consumers looking for a little help in their day-to-day activities. While the assistants each try to differentiate themselves in someway, there is one inescapable commonality: they are all female.

In this Atlantic article, Ian Bogost explores why this might be, and what it could indicate about personal assistants and the tech companies behind them. With personal assistants, Bogost argues, we are playing into the stereotype of women slotted simply to service and subservient roles, eager to please. Ultimately, these personal assistants are "doomed to fail" as they fall short of the expectation of perfection.

Read the full article here:

Comments (1)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, March 20, 2018 -- 11:08 AM

My wife has one of the Google

My wife has one of the Google machines. My daughter-in-law has Alexa. Others in our small circle of family and friends have the Siri device. I suppose one might equate the 'femininity' of these machines with a rap against the feminist point-of-view, but I find that a stretch. There have been no remarks, thus far, from anyone we know concerning this phenomenon and, to all indications, the owners of these items are pretty well satisfied with their performance. I think a distinction is in order here: the so-called personal assistants are quasi-sophisticated toys, and as such are, more than anything else, for the amusement of their owners. It is also illustrative (I think) that the devices are enjoyed more by women than men (in my limited experience)---I cannot speak for thousands(?) of other buyers, and am not a demographer. Think about all manner of indulgences that have grown out of the popular culture phenomenon. People are fascinated with technology and technocrats are delighted to deliver all manner of new and imaginative gizmos; thingamabobs and widgets. As long as there are buyers, there will be sellers. Fulfillment is such a pleasant sounding word. Those who are worried about the furtherance of feminism can hang on to their money---as easily as anyone else. Someone's not gonna like this. I'm sure of it.