Meet ‘Q’, The World's Very First Genderless Virtual Voice

Meet ‘Q’, The World's Very First Genderless Virtual VoiceMeet ‘Q’, The World's Very First Genderless Virtual Voice

Q is the non-binary virtual voice we didn't know we wanted.

In this era of gender equality and feminism, virtual voice assistants have been behind the time. With a tendency to take on female identities, the current lineup of virtual voice assistants in the market including Microsoft's 'Cortana', Apple’s ‘Siri’, Google Assistant and Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ have not sought to break out of the female assistant stereotype. But that's all changing with the world's first androgynous voice assistant.

As the world's first androgynous voice assistant, Q has been created to end gender bias in AI assistants in a partnership by Copenhagen Pride and Virtue Nordic, VICE Media’s creative agency.

With an idealistic vision of eliminating gender bias, the creators behind Q intend to instill the inherent qualities in existing virtual assistants including friendliness, helpfulness, and reliability. With an intriguing European accent, this ensures it stays versatile for various purposes such as public transportation and personal tech.

Perhaps tech giants including Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft can take a leaf out of Q's book, and help progress the movement in eradicating gender bias.    

The Very First Androgynous Voice Assistant

Being the world’s first genderless voice, Q will comprise of five main voices who neither identified as male or female, and engineered to later incorporate a gender-neutral pitch range, as scientifically defined by a linguist and researcher. This will also help establish the base criteria for other voice assistants to copy later.   

But, forget about commanding simple instructions or tasks, as it is merely just a voice for now. Not yet incorporated with an AI framework, it is still not as functional as one would like it to be.       

Fret not though, Q's creators are currently advocating for pioneers in the AI tech space to adopt the technology.    

“We aim to get the attention of leading technological companies that work with AI to ensure they are aware that a gender binary normativity excludes many people, and to inspire them by showing how easy it would actually be to recognize that more than two genders exist when developing artificial intelligence devices,” said Thomas Rasmussen, head of communication for Copenhagen Pride, announcing the arrival of Q in a press statement.

“This is about giving people choices and options.”

Building A Gender Bias Free World 

Vice Media had earlier issued a release indicating that technology companies have based outdated gender perceptions while assigning female and male voices to various scenarios, mostly to cater to the public's comfort level. More authoritative roles in banking and insurance apps incorporated the male voice, while more service oriented roles like Alexa or Siri preferred the female voice.  

“This gender bias infiltrates the platforms that are becoming more pervasive in everyday lives, reinforcing outdated stereotypes and regressing the world’s progression on the perception of gender,” VICE Media said in a statement to the press. Thus, this realization had catalyzed Virtue Nordic to partner with Copenhagen Pride to overcome this bias with Q, hoping to represent a positive direction towards inclusion and diversity representation in technology.

“Technology should be rooted in new cultural truths, rather than antiquated ones. As the agency born from VICE, we have a responsibility to ensure diverse representation in the mediums shaping culture today,” Virtue Nordics' creative duo Ryan Sherman and Emil Asmussen added. 

“Using data and insights from our global VICE network, we identified a unique opportunity to progress a medium of technology becoming more pervasive in our everyday lives. Q represents not the voice of one, but the voice of many who are fighting for a future inclusive of everyone."

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Written by

Melia Widjaja