A VA developer has revealed that virtual assistants (VA) such as Siri are increasingly being used by men to fill a lonely void in their lives.
Ilya Eckstein, CEO of Robin Labs, told the Times that a “good proportion” of his customers’ interactions with the company’s virtual driving assistant were clearly “sexually explicit”.
“This happens because people are lonely and bored,” Eckstein said. “It’s a symptom of our society. As well as the people who want to talk dirty, there are men who want a deeper sort of relationship or companionship. There are guys who talk to Robin 300 times a day.”
Eckstein told Quartz that 5% of interactions in their databased are categorised as sexually explicit, but he thinks the number is much higher due to the difficulty of identifying them automatically.
Many of the tech giants are reluctant to talk openly about the issue. But Deborah Harrison, a writer for Microsoft’s Cortana assistant, hinted at the scale of the problem at the Virtual Assistant Summit earlier this year.
Harrison revealed that “a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries” were into Cortana’s sex life, adding: “That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”
While some people are testing the software’s limits, others are playing out violent fantasies of control and domination, Quartz reported.
Eckstein added that a small number are trying “very hard to establish a relationships with the bot”. He added that a third of interactions with his company bot Robin are chats with no intended task.
Developers are at odds over whether VAs should even have personalities, but those that do are all pre-programmed to cut short sexually explicit conversations.
Ask Siri to “talk dirty” and it will reply:
“The carpet needs vacuuming.”
“Humus. Compost. Pumice. Silt. Gravel.”
Google is alone among the tech giants in having not given its bot, Google Assistant, a distinct personality.