According to research conducted by Pew Research Center, almost half of the people owning smart speakers in the US say “please” occasionally to Alexa and Siri, and about 19 percent say it frequently. The most interesting part came when it was revealed that the percentage of women showing politeness is a bit higher than that of men.
Men are usually portrayed to be impudent to women, and the latter category includes all the AI assistants who are generally categorized as female. Misogynist effects have been long noticed by experts based on the design options for AI assistants as it reinforced certain gender stereotypes. Based on an earlier report from the UN, the voice assistants’ speech being female sends a gesture of women being a docile and meek helper.
There could also be a possibility of men having a different frame of mind regarding technology. Culturally speaking, technology is generally coded as manly and practical, and be at variance with “feminine” directions. Enhanced need for comfort and enjoyment is shown by men when it comes to technology with an added interest to master it. The matter regarding politeness to smart speakers must have been getting affected due to these biases.
Now, the most fascinating question is – Does one need to be courteous to their AI assistants?
According to the survey conducted by PAW Research Center, one needn’t say please to their smart speakers as they are nothing, but just machines and we generally don’t go and say please to our toaster. But few responded by saying that the comparison would be unfair as we don’t have a conversation with our toaster, unlike the AI assistants. There also comes a concern regarding the encouragement of bad habits. Some parents usually agonize over the fact that if their children become rude to Siri or Alexa, they can be impolite to humans as well.
Being polite to the machines can result in an overestimation of their capabilities and begin relinquishing excessive power to AI assistants in our respective lives.
If a larger percentage of our day-to-day interactions involve gadgets and machines, and in case these interactions become social like never before, it might be acceptable to maintain our standards by saying “thank you” and “please.” We should refrain from being robotic ourselves in the future encompassed by robots.