the digital assistant

Why the fuck are digital assistants female??

So recently I took a job working for a large company I can’t name basically correcting errors in voice recognition via digital assistants. This is a pretty fucking tedious and benign job but I slowly started noticing some alarming trends.

Guys have a tendency to say really rude things to this digital assistant. Ask her to make them sandwiches. They call her misogynistic names. Ask her about her appearance. Ask her how old she is. Ask can she talk dirty to them. Ask her to search the creepiest sex acts you can imagine. Ask if they should jerk off with their left or right hand. You know, generally how men treat women except on steroids.

Ladies just ask the assistant for the weather or the news. Occasionally I’ll get stop talking digital assistant! But generally you know women behave like normal functional human beings. And for the record , I have had heard illegal things which I am required to report and 100% of them have been male.

It really upsets me that the developers choose to use female voices in this way. They give some bullshit reason about comfort and ease of listening. The reality is women are seen as subservient and this shit reinforces it even further. Do I believe I’d hear half of the shit I do if the voice was male? Absolutely not.

And these animals continue to sit in the privacy of their own home practicing how to speak to a woman. They practice saying whatever they want to a female voice who will just shut up and take it. They learn pretty early what role women should have, and trust me I hear little boys practicing a lot.

I found it interesting that Siri’s voice by default in the U.K. is male. It seems like the world hasn’t ended over there last I checked. What is it about the American male that is so goddamned fragile and catered to that they need digital assistants to be female? Like there’s some kind of creepy sex appeal or something? Guess a female servant in every way is most men’s dream come true?

All of this is obviously problematic and I’m not the only one to write about this. There’s tons of research and articles about it. Still, the fact that multiple companies continue to use female voices is legit bullshit. Men are complete garbage.

A digital drawing of @veigar-the-evil-yordle (my veigar rp blog) and @assistant-of-evil (Mimi)

Mimi had send in a beautifully written submission on my veigar blog a while ago which ended in a kiss between the warlock and the witch. I couldn’t pass on this as an opportunity to draw something as fluffy as this :D

Lessons in Love: Relationship Advice from the Bard

Charlotte Horobin, Globe Digital Assistant, reflects on what love lessons we can learn from Shakespeare’s plays… 

Relationship stuck in a rut? Is your other half acting strangely and avoiding you? Or do you need help bagging a date? Then look no further than the Bard for answers to all your relationship woe…*

*Disclaimer: Not all relationships in Shakespeare have a happy ending. Advice is taken at your own risk and we cannot be responsible for any harm or damage that you suffer as a result.

Why won’t he notice me?

Twelfth Night, 2013

So you’ve washed up on a strange island, frightened and alone. You think your twin brother has drowned in the shipwreck you managed to survive. You decide to disguise yourself as a man (specifically, your brother) and encounter a lovelorn Duke who pines after another Lady. Meanwhile, said Lady has become infatuated with your disguised manly self.

What do you do?

Win the Duke’s trust by wooing the Lady on his behalf (whilst rejecting her advances), and hope that he notices your feminine side underneath the manly bravado during your intimate “man-to-man” chats.

Help! I’m caught up in a messy love-square-triangle

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2013

Your father wants you to marry one bloke, but you’re in love with another. Meanwhile, you’re tall, pathetic best friend is hung up on the man your father wants you to marry. You decide to elope with your lover to the forest, but then it all goes wrong when both men stop fawning over you, and instead become enamoured with your supposed friend.

What do you do?

Confront them all and insist they explain themselves. Cling to your lover’s person and attack your best friend if you have to (and maybe it’ll all be miraculously resolved when you wake up the next day…)

I’m in love with my sworn enemy

Romeo & Juliet, 2015

Your parents throw an elaborate masked ball and you meet a dream of a guy there. He kisses you, you swoon, only to find out he’s the son of the family you’ve been in a feud with for as long as you can remember. Meanwhile, your father insists your marry this Princely chap who’s quite frankly not up to scratch.

What do you do?

Enlist the help of your Nurse and Friar so you can marry your love in secret. What could possibly go wrong?

She gave my handkerchief to another man

Othello, 2015

You’ve got it all – you’re a celebrated war hero, you’ve married the woman of your dreams and you’re slowly gaining the respect of all those around you. Yet your friend is insisting all is not as it seems, and doubts start creeping in your mind about your wife’s fidelity, especially when she tells you she’s lost your mother’s handkerchief…

What do you do?

Ask your friend for advice as he’s bound to have your best interests at heart.

I’m bored with my current wife and want an upgrade

Richard III, 2012

You seduced your wife over the dead body of her father-in-law (who you killed, along with her first husband), but now she bores you and there’s a younger model on the scene (who also happens to be your niece). What’s more, she can strengthen your claim to the throne…

What do you do?

Poison your current wife so you can be free to woo your niece, then convince her mother of how wonderful you would be as a husband.

How can I ask her out when she doesn’t speak my language?

Henry V, 2012

You’ve succeeded in winning the biggest battle of your reign so far and have been promised your foe’s daughter’s hand in marriage in return for peace. Yet when you meet her, neither can understand what the other is saying – your French is terrible and her English just sounds dirty.

What do you do?

Humour, wit and good looks are your ally. Charm her with your smile and give her a good smack on the lips for good measure.

My wife is pregnant with my best friend’s child

The Winter’s Tale, 2016

You and your wife are expecting your second child together, yet you’ve noticed recently she’s spending more and more time with your best friend. You become convinced she’s having an affair, and the child in her belly is not yours.

What do you do?

Plot the murder of your pal, put your wife on trial for adultery, and then later order one of your men to ditch your newborn daughter in the wilderness.

How do I tame her wild ways?

The Taming of the Shrew, 2016

You married for money, but now you’ve got your wife home, you’ve realised you’ve got more than you bargained for. She’s wild, unruly and refuses to do as you say.

What do you do?

Refuse her food and clothing, and disagree with her on everything. Force her to agree with everything you say, no matter how absurd. Drag her back to her father’s house and boast of your newly tamed wife.

Why won’t he settle?

All’s Well That Ends Well, 2014

You’re in love with the Countess’ son, but he is indifferent to you. After curing the King of France of his sickness, he promises you the hand of any man in his court. You choose the Countess’ son, and the King forces him to marry you. After the ceremony, however, your new husband flees to the wars, but not before laying out conditions that he’ll only truly be with you after you’ve borne his child.

What do you do?

Pursue him as he travels across the globe. Watch as he cohorts with other women, but then trick him in to sleeping with you instead, so you’ll end up pregnant with his child. Then he’ll have to settle.

I’m not buying any of those digital home assistants like Alexa or whatever until they make one that has the voice of Jenkins, the Wizard Attendant

The newest Barbie is a smart doll you can't touch

Over her nearly 60-year life, Barbie has taken on many forms, but she’s never been a hologram.

Now, though, she is having a truly out-of-body experience, showing up in her first holographic figure, Hello Barbie Hologram. Barbie parent company Mattel unveiled the semi-translucent and chatty AI figure, which lives inside a pink plastic box, on Friday at the New York Toy Fair.

SEE ALSO: Please let ‘Justice League’ be as awesome as this RC Batmobile

This is far from Barbie’s first brush with AI. Mattel introduced Hello Barbie artificial intelligence inside a physical Barbie doll in 2015. She was a particularly powerful digital assistant, engaging in conversations about interests, favorite foods and telling jokes. A year later, the AI showed up in Barbie’s first smart home, The Hello Barbie Dreamhouse, where, using voice commands, you could ask the house to give Barbie a ride on the elevator and customize the lights.

Unlike previous Hello Barbie AI’s, Hello Barbie Hologram is designed to be a true digital assistant and will engage on the trigger words “Hello Barbie.” The AI offers speech recognition and is designed to answer questions about the weather, news and is ready to do “anything a digital assistant can do,” a Mattel representative said.

As we approached Hello Barbie Hologram, it was quite clear that she isn’t a true hologram. What we were seeing, a Mattel exec told us was a prototype using “just an effect, there are no lasers.” I could clearly see a 4-inch tall hologram-like Barbie dancing in the box, but it looks like a projection against a diagonal piece of semi-translucent glass. The final product will also be a faked hologram without lasers. To demonstrate Hello Barbie Hologram’s capabilities, they had us shift our gaze to a giant box on display next to the little box.

Out of the darkness emerged a person-sized Barbie hologram, which used the same technology to display as the smaller prototype. While much of the interaction between the Mattel spokesperson and the holographic Barbie appeared to be scripted (at one point, the hologram didn’t even wait for the spokesperson to finish her line), it was also clear how a child might engage with their night-stand-dwelling personal assistant.

When asked “What’s the weather in Malibu today?” the holographic Barbie walked over to a window that suddenly appeared, looked out, gave us a weather report and added that it was perfect flip-flop weather.  A child can even use Hello Barbie Hologram to set reminders. When asked to do this, the hologram takes out her virtual phone and makes a note.

Hello Barbie Hologram is also just as diverse as real-life Barbie, and Mattel demonstrated how, with voice commands, you can change Barbie’s skin tone, ethnicity and body type.

They also showed how Hello Barbie Hologram could act as a sort of playmate, dancing on command and, yes, even dabbing.

Having a Wi-Fi-connected always-listening digital assistant in your child’s bedroom might be cause for concern, and Barbie is no stranger to controversy. In 2015, watchdog groups took Mattel to task for the way it was handling the audio recordings it used to interpret and answer queries. At the time, Mattel told the Washington Post they were “committed to safety and security, and Hello Barbie conforms to applicable government standards.“ They also made it clear to Mashable that they expected children to turn off Hello Barbie when not in use. This time around, the company does not plan to store any of the conversations with Hello Barbie Hologram.

The Hello Barbie Hologram assistant, though is intended to stay on and listen for “Hello Barbie.” Mattel wasn’t clear on how long Hello Barbie Hologram will listen before she turns off.

"We are still exploring how long the listening window will be to provide the optimum conversational experience for kids,” the Mattel rep said, adding that Hello Barbie Hologram is not always listening.

But that leads us to wonder how the hologram can hear the trigger phrase. In addition, nothing will be sent to the cloud unless it’s preceded by “Hello Barbie,” according to Mattel. Hello Barbie Hologram relies on PullStrong for its AI, natural language processing and IoT connectivity to, according to Mattel, “create a safe, cloud-based platform for girls.” They will also use 256-bit encryption for all the data the AI does manage.

Parents, who set up Hello Barbie Hologram via an app, will have some customization control, but it’s too early to say if they will be able to set a listening schedule (for example, “Stop listening or responding after 8 p.m.”). Mattel says parents can turn the device off at any time via the power switch.

Hello Barbie Hologram will ship this fall. Pricing has yet to be set.

Ride 'em, Barbie

The Barbie Dream line is also expanding in the physical realm with a new animatronic horse naturally called Hello Dream Horse. 

Large enough for a typical Barbie doll to ride, the white stallion with a long-flowing golden mane can walk and even dance on its own to three different songs. The Dream Horse, which you get to name, features realistic horse sounds and can even fake eat plastic carrots (you hear a chewing sound). It’s also touch- and voice-sensitive (ask the horse if it’s having fun and it will nod its plastic head). 

Hello Dream Horse has attitude.

Image: Lili Sams/mashable

That mane is insane.

Image: lili sams/mashable

We got a quick demonstration in which a few things became immediately evident: Dream Horse doesn’t move all that smoothly and it lacks any kind of visual sensors to keep it from galloping off a table. 

Even so, it’s probably the most active toy horse Mattel has ever created for Barbie. It also arrives this fall and will list for $99.99.

BONUS: Invisible liquid can make your phone screen as hard as sapphire

anonymous asked:

What do you do for a living? Is photography your job? I really want to pursue a photography career but i'm not sure if it is actually possible to make a living out of it

I do make money from time to time with my own photography, but the majority of my income comes from being a photographers assistant or digital capture technician, or digi tech. I help more successful, established, and older fashion photographers set up their lighting and editing process(even though I can’t photoshop my way out of a wet paper bag). I’m sometimes considered a lighting tech or just photo assistant. It’s a really great dayrate even though the photo industry is dwindling and companies have less and less money to spend on photoshoots.

I will say it’s possible to make a living with photography, but now there are factors way beyond talent that matter just as much. Such as how much money you have to get equipment, shoots, locations. How many followers you have apparently now plays a huge role in becoming a photographer(which is bullshit). I’ve got incredibly successful photo friends who have shot numerous major ads who only have a few hundred followers on instagram start to lose touch with client reach simply because their social media isn’t up to par. Then there’s kids who have purchased their first professional camera with thousands of followers who get jobs left and right simply because they have a high amount of followers. I’m not saying either side is a bad take, I’m just saying it’s a very difficult industry right now. But I will say, don’t ever pursue a career for success unless that career makes you truly happy. Specially one in the arts. Photography is an art, and shouldn’t be looked at as just a paycheck or a way to gain social media followers. Do what makes you happy, money can’t justify that.

This isn’t something I’d normally post, but I figured I’d start. I sometimes make little digital drawings to put on Tshirts and other fun items to sell on Redbubble.

Here is my most recent one of Dwight K. Schrute from The Office (US)

Here is the link to purchase it: 

MAOS & Consent

4 seasons in and it breaks my heart that I must make another post about Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it’s inability to acknowledge that loss of consent and bodily autonomy is WRONG. (See previous post: Lorelei vs Kilgrave.)

Season 4 of MAOS introduces something called The Framework, a simulation quite similar to the Matrix. Life Model Decoy (LMD) AIDA (Artificial Intelligent Digital Assistant) kidnaps members of SHIELD and places them in the virtual realty where she reigns supreme. In the Framework, AIDA brainwashed everyone into believing they were someone they weren’t. May thought she was a HYDRA agent. Coulson thought he was a school teacher. In Fitz’s case, she made him believe he was the Head of Hydra, an evil man, a murderer, and in love with her.

This situation is a bit of a throwback to Lorelei, the Asgardian from season 1 who was able to make men ‘fall in love with her’ and used her ability to have sex with Grant Ward. Back then, only a handful of fans acknowledged that what happened was rape. But neither the show-runners, writers, nor the actors acknowledged this. In fact, they framed what happened to make Ward look bad (because he was ‘unfaithful’ to his friends-with-benefits partner May, and in love with Daisy). They even ended the episode by having May punch Ward in the face after his brainwashing ran off. The victim of rape was blamed for being ‘susceptible’ to Lorelei’s powers.

And now, 4 years later it has happened again. Because the writers refuse to learn their lesson. 

Let me be very clear: Fitz was never in love with AIDA. He was always in love with Jemma. But then AIDA brainwashed him in the Framework, and instead of acknowledging that AIDA was Fitz’s captor and abuser, the writers used the situation to make AIDA seem sympathetic to the audience. And what’s worse–it worked. Many comments and reviews from fans discussed how sad ‘Ophelia’ (AIDA’s new ‘human’ name) was. How relatable she had become. Some people even SHIPPED Ophelia with Fitz and were angry he ‘chose Jemma over Ophelia’.

Once again let me empathize: Fitz was never in love with AIDA. She brainwashed him. And if they had sex in the Framework, she raped him. Any confusion Fitz felt afterwords when he returned to realty was trying to cope with the fake feelings AIDA forcefully inserted into him. He completely blamed himself for all the evil things he did in the Framework and struggled with believing he was in love with AIDA. But keep in mind Fitz ‘chose Jemma over AIDA’ because he never loved AIDA and always loved Jemma. How is this so hard to understand?

AIDA is not sympathetic. She only cares about herself. She didn’t love Fitz, she was obsessed with him.  And even if she did love him, that is no excuse for what she did to him. He was her mental prisoner in the Framework and her victim, period. She tried to KILL him when he regained his memories and rejected her.

The fact the writers didn’t bother to acknowledge that Fitz’s autonomy was completely ripped from him and he was physically and emotionally raped by AIDA is revolting. They even had Fitz try to be comforting when he turned AIDA down, as if he simply had a change of heart and was leaving her for another woman or something. He never had a say in their relationship in the first place, why did he even NEED to reject her?

Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. proves once again they don’t give a damn about consent and don’t believe a man can be raped just because a beautiful woman (or Asgardian, or AI) is the rapist.

Big Brother is Us

by Samsaran

In the novel, “1984″ George Orwell wrote of a bleak future where the government spied on our every move. Well, the time is now and the government has ways of tracking us that Orwell could never have imagined. What is worse is that WE pay big money for the devices that make it possible.

We have cellular phones which also track our every move in real time. We also have “Lo-Jack” devices that track our cars and even gives the government the power to shut your car down remotely.  In our homes, we have “Digital Home Assistants” like Amazon Echo which have microphones which can be hacked to be listening devices. Closed circuit cameras mounted on street corners and in every store, gas station, parking lot and even along freeways with special monitors to capture facial images are everywhere.

Let’s talk about DNA. The government can identify us in a matter of hours, soon to be minutes if the tech keeps improving by only a tiny amount of DNA. A drop sweat, oil from our hands, a hair or even, as just happened, by spitting on the street. They want to build a database of everyone’s DNA but we still have laws preventing this. So, we have Ancestry websites that allow you to submit DNA to see if you have any living relatives. Law Enforcement can tap into that database as they did just last week on the aforementioned street spitter. Say you never use one of those websites? It doesn’t matter. Only one of your relatives needs to use it and that gets close enough.

Big brother is watching you and biding his time. God help the modern world if this technology is ever used by a future Hitler or Stalin. 

anonymous asked:

Do you remember there being a gag about Usagi always writing in a certain script? I think I saw a post explaining it a while back, where there was a screenshot of a letter she wrote to Chibiusa, indicating that she still did it after becoming queen. I didn't know anything about Japanese scripts when I saw it so I'm not really sure what the joke was. And obviously it's not something that would be easy to translate.

That’s from S, episode 104, where Chibi-Usa comes back from the future with a letter from her mom (NQS) “explaining” why she’s there (which basically just turns into “hey thanks for looking after my kid”).
[Some of you may be familiar with this scene already, so skip to the bottom for some new info/speculation!]

You’ve mostly got the gist of the scene. What actually happened is that NQS hadn’t used any kanji when writing her letter.
There are three alphabets in written Japanese; hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Hiragana and katakana (grouped together as kana) are phonetic alphabets, i.e. they transcribe sounds, not meaning. They are learned during a child’s first year of school. Kanji have inherent meanings and are made up of radicals (basically, smaller, simpler kanji), and there are so many of them that they’re taught throughout a student’s school years.
It’s a bit hard to explain the functional difference between kana and kanji without an example, so; take the word kaeru, which can have one of many meanings. If you use kanji, you can convey which meaning you intend; if you write 帰る you’re saying “return", if you write 変える you’re saying “change”, and if you write 蛙 you’re saying “frog”. If you write it in just hiragana or katakana, かえる or カエル, it can have any possible meaning of the word “kaeru”, and you need to rely on context to know which one.
There are some kanji that everyone is expected to be able to read/write because they’re common or important. These are known as joyo kanji. There are over 2000, and kids are supposed to have learned just over 1000 of them by the time they finish elementary school (around age 11-12).
Going back to the kaeru example, 帰る (return) and 変える (change) both use joyo kanji, but 蛙 (frog) does not. As a result, if a person wants to write “frog”, they generally only use hiragana or katakana, meaning that if you read the word かえる you assume the writer means frog, and not return or change. But if the writer is a child, for example, you might not know.
That doesn’t mean that every Japanese person knows every single joyo kanji by heart or that they never have problems remembering/reciting them, just like you might not still be able to spell every single word you ever had to learn in English class. But the assumption is that even those who are bad at kanji will remember some of them. And if you don’t, you can check how to write them by using a kanji dictionary, especially if you’re writing something important.

NQS used both katakana and hiragana in her letter, but no kanji. None. At all.

Given that kids are supposed to have memorised a thousand of them by the time they’re 13 years old, and she’s the Queen of the World, this is naturally a huge shock to the other characters, and it’s no wonder that Usagi is this embarrassed when it’s revealed:

It’s not as though NQS didn’t have the opportunity to use kanji, either; there are several words there that utilise joyo kanji. Ami points out that you can see where she tried to write kanji, but got them wrong and erased it; Artemis asks why she didn’t just check a dictionary and Rei says it’s probably because NQS thought it would be too much of a pain in the ass. It’s almost unthinkable that someone in a position like Neo Queen Serenity wouldn’t use kanji that are considered “common use”, which is exactly why it’s so funny (and in-character).

It obviously doesn’t translate 100%, but it’s really not impossible. Here are some similar scenarios using English;

  • The letter has no punctuation or capitalisation and is just one long run-on sentence
  • The letter is full of basic spelling mistakes, and/or only utilises very easy-to-spell words, because she forgot how to spell longer ones so she just swapped them out for simpler alternatives
  • The letter is full of text-speak/abbreviations, like “thx” and “pls” (note that NQS full-on drew a love heart in the letter so you could throw in some emojis too)
  • A little more exaggerated, but only a little; the letter is written in crayon

Interestingly, even though the characters in the 21st century made fun of her for it, just 20 years later it actually doesn’t seem unreasonable that Neo Queen Serenity wouldn’t remember many kanji. Japanese people forgetting how to write kanji is actually a documented problem due to the rise of smart phones, computers and tablets, which automatically suggest any possible kanji for the words you type. [1] [2] [3]
I can only imagine how different the world would be in the 30th century, and how much more prevalent technology would be in writing & reading. Obviously people aren’t quite at NQS’s level yet, but it’s not hard to imagine a future where hand-writing kanji without any digital assistance is so antiquated and referencing a dictionary so laborious that she would find it genuinely more convenient to write it all in kana. This theory seems to be strengthened by Usagi’s reaction; while she isn’t the best student, she probably does remember quite a few joyo kanji at her current age, so she seems mortified at the suggestion that she’s even worse at it as an adult. Just another way Sailor Moon is ahead of the curve, I guess~!

Edit: I just realised that I made a glaring error and said NQS had used both hiragana and romaji in her letter. What I meant to say was hiragana and katakana. Katakana is a Japanese script, but “romaji” is the word used to refer to the English alphabet in Japanese. Technically NQS did use romaji (you can see she wrote the English letter “Q” in her signature in place of the word “queen”) but this was not the point I meant to make. Hopefully that wasn’t too confusing!

Apple still hasn't fixed Siri's biggest problem
If you were listening to Apple’s keynote address at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference this week, you might have walked away thinking that this is the year (and the version of iOS) that Siri finally feels like a capable digital assistant. Apple announced it was adding a new visual interface to its digital assistant, the ability to handle follow-up questions, and even language translation. Siri is also getting a new voice completely generated by machine learning algorithms. Read more

We (Cory Fuller, Amanda Li, Sabrina Mati, Mike Bertino, and Jon Vermilyea) like to play a little game where we draw on post-its, crumple them up, and throw them at eachother.  They end up becoming wonderful wall decorations! 

(Amanda Li is the one shown in two of these photos)

Aren’t we fun?