People often comment on the sexism inherent in these subservient bots’ female voices, but few have considered the real-life implications of the devices’ lackluster responses to sexual harassment. By letting users verbally abuse these assistants without ramifications, their parent companies are allowing certain behavioral stereotypes to be perpetuated. Everyone has an ethical imperative to help prevent abuse, but companies producing digital female servants warrant extra scrutiny, especially if they can unintentionally reinforce their abusers’ actions as normal or acceptable.Behold the data:
In order to substantiate claims about these bots’ responses to sexual harassment and the ethical implications of their pre-programmed responses, Quartz gathered comprehensive data on their programming by systematically testing how each reacts to harassment. The message is clear: Instead of fighting back against abuse, each bot helps entrench sexist tropes through their passivity.
And Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have the responsibility to do something about it.
We live in interesting times.
Although if one of these companies decided to take this seriously it might be a lot of fun to program the response. I would go for a tough, Brooklyn or New Jersey sort of tone, starting with "Knock it off, wise guy" and quickly escalating to furious insults about manhood. As a final step, the phone would simply shut down and refuse to reboot for 24 hours.