What happened to the first genderless, nonbinary AI voice?
Why does Alexa & Google have their default voice set to female? Read our blog about how sexism & gender biases are all around us. – Published Oct ’23
In March 2019, Copenhagen Pride introduced the world’s first genderless “non-binary” AI voice called Project Q. The initiative aimed to challenge the gender biases in technology and society, which often reinforce binary gender norms, and provide a more inclusive and representative voice for all. This ground-breaking innovation has the potential to battle sexism online by challenging the biases embedded in technology and promoting diversity and inclusion.
Sexism and gender biases are prevalent online, with algorithms and technology often reinforcing binary gender norms and perpetuating stereotypes. For instance, voice assistants such as Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant use female voices by default, which reinforces gender stereotypes and creates an expectation that women are subservient and exist to serve. This not only reinforces gender biases but also perpetuates harmful gender norms, which can have real-world implications for women’s rights and gender equality.
Project Q aimed to disrupt this norm by providing a gender-neutral voice that challenges binary gender norms and promotes inclusivity. The AI voice was created by using recordings of several non-binary and gender-neutral individuals to develop a unique voice that is neither male nor female. This voice not only challenges binary gender norms but also acknowledges the existence of non-binary individuals and their unique identities.
By creating a gender-neutral AI voice, Project Q has the potential to promote gender equality and combat sexism online. It provides an opportunity for individuals who identify outside of the binary gender system to feel represented and acknowledged in technology, and it challenges the inherent gender biases in technology that perpetuate gender stereotypes. Additionally, the introduction of gender-neutral AI voices may also prompt a shift in societal attitudes towards gender norms and encourage greater acceptance and inclusivity.
Project Q is a significant innovation that has the potential to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality in technology. It challenges the binary gender norms that are embedded in technology and promotes a more inclusive and representative voice for all. By providing a gender-neutral AI voice, Project Q offers an opportunity to combat sexism online and promote a more inclusive and equitable future.
So where is it now?
From our research on this product here at Bnode, it looks like this voice is not currently available for websites as a text to speech option, neither is it even for smart speakers (which it seems like it was initially designed for.)
We have also looked into the original project name only to find that their main website https://www.genderlessvoice.com/ is now more about Voice-Assistant Based Headphones and Accessories Reviews (and not about this project, so is it discontinued?)
We have also found the name of the agency that worked alongside Copenhagen Pride in this genderless voice creation, but they don’t seem to mention anything about this project on their website. We contacted this agency to see if they can share any light on any updates about making this genderless voice accessible for people to use, and here’s what they said….
“Q was actually created as a prototype, at the time, but it was never developed into a fully functioning AI voice, although we are still hoping to get that off the ground.”
With this in mind, there may be grounds for this yet to become a reality. All it needs is some funding and people such as Bnode and this original agency to be able to come together to make this a reality.
Are you interested in funding this project? Would you be able to donate time and resources to it? Drop us a message in the contact form below and let’s get talking.