Choosing SIRI’s Voice: A Philosophical Quandary

I love using SIRI.


The love is deep. And it’s real.

I’m an AT&T gal, but my screen says the same thing more often than not.
With this crazy brain, SIRI saves my bacon and has helped me be more efficient. Not only do I get to throw my thoughts into the phone and continue what I’m doing, I get reminders to do things I may have forgotten otherwise.

Like many other assistants, SIRI is the real star.

Unlike other assistants, though, I can totally discriminate against SIRI.

I don’t like SIRI’s regular voice. It’s too robotic and creepy.

The first time I set it up, I changed the voice to have a British accent almost-immediately. That one is much more pleasant. And it was fun to have that touch of UK in my life. I will neither confirm nor deny that I pretended to be the Dowager Countess with it…

Maggie Smith AND the Dowager Countess are my spirit animals.
Last week, a friend finally decided to set up her SIRI.

My fiance and I were over for dinner, and it came up somehow. So, we stood around while our friend went through the whole, “Hey, SIRI. It’s me… Hey, SIRI. It’s me… Hey , SIRI. It’s me… Hey, SIRI, how’s the weather today?” She looked at the voice options—American, British, Australian, female, and male.

Then, my friend asked the big question:

“Which SIRI voice should I have?”

My pupils dilated.

I was thrown into outer space.

“what SIRI voice should I have? …SIRI voice should I have? …voice should I have …have…… have………. have…”—it echoes between my ears.

I had the debate I have in my head about 93% of things, trying to answer the question:

What does it MEAN??

What does my voice choice say about me? What glimpses into m psyche does it provide?

By choosing a woman, am I playing to the misogyny that runs so rampant in the US? I’ve deliberately not called SIRI a woman because it’s a computer program.

Plus, boys are assistants, too. And girls can be doctors. And boys can cry. And girls can be strong. And just because girls don’t get as muscle-y as boys doesn’t mean they’re worse, because I’m just as fast as you, Ryan, andohmygodi’minseventhgradeagain.

The people over at BioQuakes say electronic devices default to a woman’s voice because “female voice are preferred over male voices.” Not BMW in Germany, though. They had to change their electronic voices to male because German men didn’t want to take directions from a woman. Mommy Issues, mein Fuhrer?

And what about the whole assertiveness issue? I never know what they mean when studies say girls aren’t as assertive as boys—”Who’d they study? Stereotypes from the 50s?”

I have “executive leadership skills”. Always have. Always will. Confident, unphased, outgoing—that’s just me. For better or for worse.

But, I like the idea of telling a boy to look up stuff and keep my schedule. Kind of like Moneypenny, err, Mister Hooker on ‘Mad Men.’ My inner Patty Hewes might approve.

And let’s make the voice Australian…


Crocodile SIRI. G’day.