from the better-safe-than-sorry dept.
Here's an interesting stat from the Pew Research Center: more than half of smart speaker owners in the US (54 percent) report saying "please" at least occasionally to their AI assistants, with one-in-five (19 percent) saying please frequently. Curiously, the question of AI politeness also breaks down along gender lines, with 62 percent of women reporting that they say "please" at least sometimes, versus 45 percent for men.
Why that might be?
One possible answer is that men are generally ruder to women, and this latter category now includes AI assistants coded as female. Experts have long noted that the design choices for AI bots could have misogynist effects by reinforcing gender stereotypes. "Because the speech of most voice assistants is female, it sends a signal that women are ... docile and eager-to-please helper," a report from the UN noted earlier this year.
It could also be that men just have different attitudes to technology. Culturally speaking, tech is coded as practical and manly, and contrasted with "feminine" disciplines. Studies show men feel more comfortable with technology, and express more interest in "mastering" it as a tool. These biases could be affecting the issue of politeness to AI.
Sadly, Pew didn't ask respondents why they felt they had to say please or not to these bots, so we can only speculate on the topic. But the broader issue is certainly an interesting one: do you need to be polite to AI assistants?