Voice Assistants

James Parker
March 7, 2024


Sean Dockray

Voice assistants are one of the most widely recognized applications of machine listening. They are most often a touchless computing interface that requires natural language understanding. Their design has developed in a feedback loop with popular fiction in which some advanced technology (War Games, 2001, Knight Rider, etc.) is imaginatively realized with a voice interface.

The main thing I am testing out here is a “see also” section, where this card/ unit/ class/ topic/ curriculum entry might deliberately link across to another that is far away in the sequence, such as Wake Words. In addition to this (a) inline link, I have a (b) “see also” section below, and (c) a “see also” property up above that only allows choices in this curriculum.

See Also

What do wake words do?

Mehak Sawhney

Expanding upon Sean’s idea of interfaciality, it is important to note that voice assistants have also been critiqued by scholars for their stereotypical gendered representations as interactive interfaces. Gendered labour is reproduced both in designing the performative features of voice assistants as well as their status as an assistant or secretary in everyday life.


Thao Phan. “The Materiality of the Digital and the Gendered Voice of Siri,” Transformations 29 (2017): 23-33.

Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy. The Smart Wife: Why Siri, Alexa, and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist Reboot. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2021.