Voice control and interfaces

I looked a lot at the way touch interfaces function for my paper, but one thing I didn’t get to think about too much is the way other types of interfaces function as media and the way they interact with our culture. Other than touch, voice definitely seems like the most significant way we interact with technology. But I connected our use of touch to the individualist nature of our culture, and I think this same aspect has the potential to prevent widespread use of voice, just because any interaction in the presence of other people will automatically include them.

Another interesting angle to look at these interfaces from is the way they’re gendered. I noted in my paper that technology in general seems to be gendered female and that this has something to do with the masculinized, controlling position of the user, but I think this relationship takes on additional significance when we think about it specifically in terms of voice. It’s notable that most voice assistants have their own explicitly female character that is even named — such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa — and while the Google Now voice assistant doesn’t have a name, its default voice is still female. This is made even clearer in numerous YouTube videos of people asking these machines somewhat sexual questions and receiving answers.

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Voice control and interfaces

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