Meet Q, The Electronic Assistant That's Challenging The Gender Binary

Q operates at a mid-range frequency that sounds neither male nor female. (Meet Q/YouTube)

For the last couple of years, the smart devices we're increasingly leaving in charge of our lives have given us pause on a number of occasions. Like when Alexa started laughing at people for no reason in the middle of the night, or when Siri just flat out ignored us for days, or when the world figured out that Google Home can both fart and swear like a sailor. Then there's Cortana, who seems hell-bent on scuppering gaming sessions.

What we ponder a little bit less is why all of our electronic assistants have feminine voices by default. There are a number of theories around this; research suggests people just expect all administrative assistants to be female, and there's also the suggestion that feminine voices will make this major tech influx seem less threatening. Either way, when the voices we bark demands at all day sound like women, it can't help but double down on traditional gender stereotypes that have no place in technology this futuristic.

Enter Q, the first gender-neutral electronic assistant, and a breath of fresh air in a world which is increasingly less and less interested in a strict gender binary. Q is "neither male nor female," and has been "created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender."

Q was researched meticulously and designed around a mid-range frequency that simultaneously sounds like both genders and no gender at all. This shift from female-sounding assistants is an important step away from reinforcing old ideas around female servitude, while also pushing for a more non-binary future.

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Q has the potential to surreptitiously change how we see gender and identity, as we move deeper into the 21st century. As the linguists, sound designers and technologists that created Q say themselves: "It's a voice of progression, a voice of hope, a voice that moves us forward."

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