Have A Listen To This Genderless Voice Designed For Digital Assistants

I was pretty skeptical as I read about this supposedly genderless voice. Surely it would have to lean one way or another. But I think maybe they’ve actually done it.

Gun to my head I say it’s a woman, but I’m not going to argue with anyone who says I’m wrong.

The developers started out by recording five distinct voices that do not necessarily fit male or female binaries. They then moved the recordings into a gender-neutral range using voice modulation software.
To test the voice samples, the project Q team conducted a test involving over 4,600 people. Participants were asked to determine whether the voice that they would hear was more male or female.
Based on the answers, the researchers would then tweak the modulation of the voices and tested them again until they were able to create genderless voice.

You might be asking yourself why exactly we need this. According to the developers, the answer is inclusivity.

The team hopes that it could one day build an artificial intelligence (AI) framework for Q so that the genderless voice can be used with digital assistant technologies.

“I think it’s really important to have representation for trans people when it comes to not only AI, but voices in general,” said Ask Stig Kistvad, a trans man who took part in the project by lending his voice. “It’s a new thing in the last three to five years, that trans people are actually represented in popular culture.”
Kistvad said it is only natural for some technology developers to eventually embrace trans people as well.

What my technology sounds like isn’t a thing I’ve ever thought about beyond whether or not the voices are listenable, but I can understand why some folks might. It’s all kind of fascinating.

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3 Comments

  1. Nope, I say it’s a woman. Every now and then it sounds like a man to me, but I’m going with woman. I couldn’t get a handle on the accent though. There was one point where I thought the voice was African or African-American, and then it sounded more British. But it definitely made me think woman.

    1. You’ve really thought this out, haven’t you?

      There are elements of man in there at points, but I keep coming back to woman.  Glad you agree.  But that there’s so much room for debate speaks well of what they’ve managed to do, I think.

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