9Key’s WTF: Fembots and Manbots

So WTF is up with all the sexy female robots and robot voices?  Yeah, yeah, I get the psychology behind it.  Female voices are more calming and we listened to our mothers as fetuses, blah blah.  But damn am I tired of hearing the random voice actor doing her best “low and raspy” routine, then have it laced with fake robotic overtones. When the mystical, disembodied heart from Dishonored makes me feel like I should be getting charged 5 bucks a minute, something’s gone too far.

These sassy voices aren’t just contained to clue-giving organs in video games, however, they’re in our daily lives.  There’s Apple’s Siri, the girls in our GPS and TomToms, automated phone services, the lady that tells you the next stop on the subway or airport tram, and tons more.  There is an abundance of soft-spoken, bionic women infiltrating my world.  And it’s creeping me out.

Are we trying to make our tech more like fembots?  You know, those shiny, hourglass woman with big boobs and no clothes?

(Cortana from Halo, Maria from Metropolis, EDI from Mass Effect 3)

Is this the image behind the voices for us?  Or do we think of something a bit more realistic?

(Lisa from Weird Science, Six from Battlestar Galactica, Simone from S1mOne)

When these female AIs are represented in our entertainment they’re always young, sexy, and perky.  Yeah, makes sense and all.  Who wants to think that their phone is actually a 300lb, one-armed, cyborg with buck teeth?  But what’s wrong with a little variety in our lives?  Give the women out there a little love too?

For quite a while after 2001: A Space Odyssey came out, businesses refused to have automated male voices in fear of being connected to HAL.  Since then there’s been a slew of evil male robots such as ED 209 from Robocop, the computer in Wargames, the Terminator and T-1000, General Grievous and IG-88 from Star Wars, the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica, Ash from Alien, and the list goes on and on.

(HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, ED 209 from Robocop, T-101 from The Terminator)

So how long is everyone going to use that as an excuse to omit male voices?  Cause there’s an a fantastic list of awesome guy robots out there too.  Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, Marvin from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Wall-E, Kit from Knight Rider, C3PO, etc.  These are fantastic characters with tons of personality and wit.  What’s wrong with having these types of voices in our phones and cards and elevators?

(Marvin from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet)

We even have a small selection of sexy, male robots from film too.

(Sam Anders from Battlestar Galactica, Gigolo Joe from A.I., Roy Batty from Blade Runner)

Really, would it not be awesome if Jude Law’s smooth, accented tones or the almighty Rutger Hauer’s deep, gravelly voice tells us how to get to the nearest open coffee house at 3am?

The excuse for the ‘calm and comforting’ female voice is tired.  Who really wants a calm Sunday-school teacher-like voice counting down until the ship’s self-destruction anyway?  Hell, I’d make it Joe Pesci screaming at me to get the hell off the ship before I’m blown into tiny space bits.  I’m just saying, we need some more variety in our techy world, and some more sexy male voices.  Cause really, WTF.


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