Innovation That Matters

The genderless voice is available as an open-source AI system | Photo source Andres Urena on Unsplash

A genderless voice for AI assistants

Work & Lifestyle

Designed to help combat gender bias, the open-source voice is available for use by any smart device

Spotted: Named Q, the voice was developed by a team of experts keen to help redress systemic gender bias and improve inclusivity. The majority of voices chosen for use in artificial intelligence-powered personal assistants are female. Researchers point to that as evidence of inbuilt bias that assumes women work in assistant roles. Male voices, on the other hand, are more frequently used in roles that assume authority, such as giving driving instructions and in military robots.

To better reflect a non-binary world, the Project Q team examined a wide range of voices, and after considering creating a composite, the sound engineer chose to work with a single voice. Q’s register sits between 145 and 175 Hertz, in a range defined by audio researchers. More than 4,500 people then listened to the options and helped to choose the most gender-neutral version.

Project Q is a collaboration between Copenhagen Pride, Virtue, Equal AI, Koalition Interactive and thirtysoundsgood. The team of researchers, linguists, sound designers and technology leaders have made Q available as an open-source AI system, and they are waiting for well-renowned technology companies to show interest in offering the voice in their smart assistants.

Other recent innovations spotted by Springwise that are working to increase gender neutrality and equality include an AI reading tool that analyses film and television scripts for diversity and a translation company’s gender-neutral language database.




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