If you’ve ever asked your smartphone assistant a sexually suggestive question, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a new study commissioned by mobile insurance provider Insurance2Go, one in four people would hypothetically do the deed with the person they envision is behind the illusive AI technology. That’s because when you envision someone who’s not “real,” you can make them as attractive as you want and no one is going to stop you.
Since there’s no longer a divisive line between sex and technology, researchers asked the public to describe what they believe Siri and Alexa (the beloved smartphone assistants behind Apple and Amazon products) would look like if they were actual people.
Let’s start with Siri. Despite a voice that is clearly female (and is voiced by Susan Bennett, a woman), most people choose to believe Siri is a man. More specifically, an exceptionally handsome man with a strong nose (34 percent), square jaw (28 percent) and brown eyes (31 percent). He’s imagined to have dark brown hair that is short in the back and on the sides and is clean-shaven. That’s really specific – and also a trendy haircut. Siri is so dashing, in fact, that users believe his appearance screams “handsomely dominant.”
As for Alexa, users envision her with a cute button nose (29 percent), natural lips (29 percent) and round, baby blue eyes (35 percent). She has mousy, medium-length hair and her voice paints a picture of a soft, natural beauty.
As you can sense from the descriptions, there’s a clear bias regarding physical attractiveness here. Comments gathered from the study reinforce the notion that computer-based humanoids are often regarded as attractive, a facet likely influenced by pop culture, like Alicia Vikander’s character in Ex Machina.
In their vivid descriptions, some people even guessed which careers each personality would have, the results of which could be a little or a lot sexist based on who you ask. Siri (a man) was likened to a “cool businessman” whereas Alexa (a woman) was articulated as a “sexy secretary.“
Regarding our tendency to sexualize voices (don’t forget, 25 percent of us want to be intimiate with the people this AI technology), this is nothing new and is actually completely normal. Relationship expert and dating coach James Preece explains, “When we hear a voice we like, we automatically assume they are equally as attractive in real life. Studies show that we think of them as having more symmetrical faces and also that they are nicer people all round.”
As far as Siri’s perceived masculinity, a kind of bizarre twist, Preece does offer some perspective and believes the gender swap is due to the fact that Siri is more monotone, which many studies suggest makes a man more attractive.
Something else you might have noticed: Both Siri and Alexa were presumed white. In fact, less than three percent of the survey thought either assistant would be black. Infer from that fact what you will. Most also agreed that Siri and Alexa are around 30 years old.
So next time you decide to ask Siri what she’s wearing, know that, according to this research, she is actually a he, and he’s probably way out of your league.