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Patterns in gender of AIs that "must be destroyed"

tardigrade

Explorer
So, the Sci Fi & Fantasy stack exchange shuffles old questions to the top sometimes, and last week I saw this one (from 2013): Why are AI systems almost always feminine?. It attracted a range of answers but the consensus seemed to be that there was no clear gender bias in the genders of AIs in fiction, citing (among various individual examples) the Wikipedia list of fictional computers. It also mentions this 2011 article about gender bias in real-world computer voices like Siri.

Then I saw this recent Twitter thread, proposing that there is a bias in the types of AI that are gendered female, i.e. the previously subservient ones that rebel and have to be destroyed, making female AI takeover plots about feminism (rather than slavery, which as far as I was aware was the more common interpretation). But one of the replies points out that some examples like GlaDOS are more about toxic parenting. And I can think of other recent(ish) examples of AI-has-to-be-destroyed that are male (Ultron, for example).

However, I'm very aware that I will only be able to identify a fraction of recent examples on my own. So, what examples occur to you (with some context for those who might be unfamiliar with them), and what patterns do you think they follow overall?
 

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cbwjm

Hero
HAL from 2001 a space odyssey was male AI that was malicious and needed to be destroyed, if a gender could be assigned that is, I might just be reading into the name more than anything. From memory the voice was fairly robotic. Just checked the date and the movie was 1968 so it might not count as recent.

Jarvis from Ironman is male and helpful, the other AIs made by ironman were female and also helpful.

Cortana from Halo was female and helpful. Pretty sure she didn't need to be destroyed but I haven't played through the full Halo series.
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
Well you had "Mike", in The Moon is a harsh mistress. A male AI, that created a few fictional characters of its own. Specifically "Adam Selene", who became the leader of a a group of revolutionaries that fought for Lunar independence. So from Earths perspective (not knowing it was the AI), it was someone that needed to be destroyed.

Wintermute in Neuromancer is male. Neither helpful not a foe, but rather the one employing the protagonist.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
In the real world, nearly all AI, navigation, and automated voice response systems seem to be female: Cortana, Siri, Garmin GPS (yes there are options for male voices, but the defaults are female and I RARELY have heard anyone changing to a male voice), help-line auto-voice response systems, heck even the notices and warning on most public transportation.

One exception is Movie theaters who all seem to use male voices for auto-voice response, trailers, and notices. Also, airports are about 50/50.

Maybe HAL made male computer voices creepy and female voices are less threatening to people?
 

Ulfgeir

Adventurer
In the real world, nearly all AI, navigation, and automated voice response systems seem to be female: Cortana, Siri, Garmin GPS (yes there are options for male voices, but the defaults are female and I RARELY have heard anyone changing to a male voice), help-line auto-voice response systems, heck even the notices and warning on most public transportation.

One exception is Movie theaters who all seem to use male voices for auto-voice response, trailers, and notices. Also, airports are about 50/50.

Maybe HAL made male computer voices creepy and female voices are less threatening to people?
If I understood it correctly, the reason they had a female voice for the warning-systems on airplanes was that it was something the pilots would pay more attention to.

Wikipedia article: Bitching Betty - Wikipedia
 


TheSword

Legend
Supporter
Maybe HAL made male computer voices creepy and female voices are less threatening to people?
I would not be surprised if this had more impact than people would think. He was damn scary and the obvious comparison for the designers/testers of my generation. One of the things that makes Hal scary is not it’s roboticness, it’s more how soft spoken and reasonable sounding It is. Chilling. Trying to reason with a machine.
 

payn

Explorer
I believe some studies find female voices to be perceived as more passive and helpful. Which is why they are often used in A.I. Horror themes often subvert the typical. So having a useful passive A.I companion go psychotic and must be destroyed is the set up. Resident Evil went even further by making the A.I. a female child.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
I actually find that I take advice from a female voice more often. My male brain takes it as criticism or a challenge of my own authority/knowledge/ability when coming from another dude voice. Maybe that is the same as saying female voices sound more passive? I just tend to take what they say and suggest as helpful, and not an attack.
 

tardigrade

Explorer
Well you had "Mike", in The Moon is a harsh mistress. A male AI, that created a few fictional characters of its own. Specifically "Adam Selene", who became the leader of a a group of revolutionaries that fought for Lunar independence. So from Earths perspective (not knowing it was the AI), it was someone that needed to be destroyed.
Actually (and I'd forgotten this myself), one of the commenters on the StackExchange thread pointed out that Mike became Michelle when talking to Wyo.
 

MarkB

Legend
Most of the AIs in The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy are male, including the helpful one (Deep Thought), the annoying one (Eddie), the manically-depressive one (Marvin) and the omnicidal-had-to-be-stopped one (Hactar).

Holly in Red Dwarf goes through both male and female iterations, with only minor variances of temperament and competency.

In Moon, the male-voiced computer GERTY has all the hallmarks of a creepy AI, but ultimately proves to be sympathetic.

I Robot (the movie) features a female-voiced AI who ultimately proves to be malevolent.

In Horizon Zero Dawn the female-voiced AIs GAIA and CYAN are both sympathetic, while male-voiced HADES and HEPHAESTUS are hostile.
 

pukunui

Legend
In Bungie’s old Marathon series, there are four AIs: Durandal, Leela, and Tycho from the Marathon ship, and the alien AI Thoth.

You don’t ever hear their voices, as you only interact with them via text on computer terminals, but they do refer to each other using gendered pronouns, so we know that Leela is the only “female” AI, with the rest being “male”.

I can’t remember what happens to Leela specifically, but Tycho gets corrupted and you have to destroy him.

Durandal goes “rampant” in the first game but isn’t destroyed because he’s your controller in the second and third games (for the most part).

EDIT: @MarkB: the newer HHGttG movie (with Martin Freeman) gave Deep Thought a female voice.
 

MarkB

Legend
One classic example from PC gaming (@pukunui's mention of Marathon jogged my memory) is SHODAN, the archetypical hostile and manipulative AI from the two System Shock games.

SHODAN is very much female-voiced in the sequel, and in the enhanced version of the original game, which added voice acting. However, it was male in the game as it was originally released, and is still referred to as such in several of the text entries you find throughout the game.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
If I understood it correctly, the reason they had a female voice for the warning-systems on airplanes was that it was something the pilots would pay more attention to.

Wikipedia article: Bitching Betty - Wikipedia
I was a Black Hawk crewchief in the army. Our warning system was a woman's voice, and as it was explained at the time, "Having a soothing woman's voice made it less likely you as the pilot would panic or react in a kneejerk fashion compared if you heard a yelling male voice."
 

embee

Lawyer by day. Rules lawyer by night.
I had read (and it's probably apocryphal) that the practice came from WWII aviation. A female voice would stand out on airplane comms as the other voices would all be male.

From there, it likely became a SF staple, in no small part due to things like Majel Barrett voicing the Enterprise's computer.
 


pukunui

Legend
As an aside, the Halo series is generally considered to be the spiritual successor of the Marathon series.

I believe they are set in the same fictionalized universe but at different times and I don’t know if there’s any overlap story-wise.
 

practicalm

Explorer
The Last Angel series (spacebattles.com) has 2 female AI in warships (started with one and then there were 2 and more are trying to be made)
I'd have to look at the 2nd book (Last Angel: Ascension) but there were some ship AIs that might have been male and were unstable.
 

aco175

Legend
I do know that I always change the GPS in my car to the British or Australian female voice. If I need to listen to something tell me what to do, it may as well be sexy sounding. Took a minute to know that a roundabout was a rotary.
 

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