The Ethics of Digital Voice Assistants

In 2019, there were a staggering 3.25 billion digital voice assistants in use across the globe, a figure that is predicted to rise to 8 billion by 2023. These assistants, which include Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and more, are not just computers; they have voices and personalities, and we develop social relationships with them just like we do with real people. However, the way they are currently designed, voice assistants enable and even encourage certain stereotypes and social behaviors in their users. This paper explores the ethicality of digital voice assistants and their effects on those who use them and suggests ways designers can approach their development to make sure such socially detrimental effects are mitigated.

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