‘Sexist’ Amazon Alexa didn’t answer Lionesses question
Amazon has been accused of sexism after its Alexa voice assistant was unable to respond to a question about the Lionesses’ semi-final victory at the Women’s World Cup.
When asked on Wednesday “for the result of the England-Australia football match today” it said there was no match.
“This was an error that has been fixed,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Academic Joanne Rodda – who alerted the BBC – said it showed “sexism in football was embedded in Alexa”.
Dr Rodda, a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Kent and Medway Medical School – with an interest in artificial intelligence (AI), said she had only been able to get an answer from Alexa when she specified it was women’s football she was interested in.
“When I asked Alexa about the women’s England-Australia football match today it gave me the result,” she told the BBC.
The BBC was able to replicate what she had found on Alexa.
Responding to Amazon saying it had remedied the situation, Dr Rodda told the BBC it was “pretty sad that after almost a decade of Alexa, it’s only today that the AI algorithm has been ‘fixed’ so that it now recognises woman’s World Cup football as ‘football'”.
Amazon told the BBC that when a customer asks Alexa a question, information is pulled from a variety of sources, including Amazon, licensed content providers, and websites.
It added that it had automated systems which use AI to understand the context and pull out the most relevant information, but the systems got it wrong in this case.
The firm said it expected the systems to get better over time, adding that it has teams dedicated to help prevent similar situations in the future.