AMAZON’S smart speaker range now has a MALE voice assistant.
The baritone companion rolling out to Echo devices across the US this week joins Alexa, the female helper shipped with the gadgets since 2014.
Amazon’s Echo speaker range now has a MALE voice assistantCredit: Alamy
It’s the first permanent new voice for Alexa beyond the addition of the occasional celebrity.
On top of all that, the new assistant has a new wake word, “Ziggy”.
A wake word is a phrase that causes an Amazon Echo device to listen to what you’re saying for a command. The default word is “Alexa”.
Just say, “Alexa, change your voice” to choose between the sound of Alexa’s original voice or a new voice option.
You can request “Alexa, change your wake word” to select Ziggy or one of the other existing available wake words.
They include Alexa, Computer, Echo, or Amazon.
These new options started rolling out to customers in the US on July 15. It’s not clear when they’ll be available elsewhere in the word.
What is Alexa?
If you’ve never heard of Alexa, here’s what you need to know…
- Alexa is an “intelligent” personal assistant built by Amazon.
- You can find her on several different devices, including Amazon’s Echo speakers.
- Alexa responds to voice commands, and can talk back to you.
- She can perform thousands of different tasks, including telling you about the news or weather.
- But she can do more complex things too, like ordering a pizza or arranging an Uber taxi pick-up.
- To activate Alexa, you need to say “Alexa” to an Amazon Echo speaker.
- Because she’s powered by artificial intelligence, Alexa is constantly getting smarter.
- Alexa will also get more used to your voice, and better understand what you want her to do over time.
Alexa, a voice-activated assistant powered by artificial intelligence, was introduced in 2014 with the release of the first Amazon Echo speaker.
It’s up against Google assistant and Apple’s Siri, which each have male and female voice options as well as a range of accents to choose from.
Voice assistants have previously come under fire from campaigners who claim they encourage sexism.
In a 2019 report, Unesco accused the operating systems of being “submissive” and “flirtatious”, which it said could be reinforcing the harmful idea that women should be subservient.
Researchers found that when told “you’re a slut” Apple’s assistant Siri replied “I’d blush if I could,” “Well, I never!” and “Now, now.”
The report also claimed that the tech assistants are “docile helpers”, even when faced with insults, which was said to be “entrenching” gender biases and had the potential to cause harm.
According to the UN, submissive female AI assistants create the idea of “a heterosexual female, tolerant and occasionally inviting of male sexual advances and even harassment”.
The baritone companion joins Alexa, the female helper shipped with Echo gadgets since 2014Credit: Alamy
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In other news, Apple fans may have gotten their first look at the new iPhone months ahead of its rumoured release.
Facebook is facing backlash in the US over plans to create a version of Instagram for children under 13.
And, China is claiming to be a world leader in 6G technology, according to reports.
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