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Workshop: Women Reclaiming AI for Activism

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

In this workshop we will explore what a ‘conversational AI’ is and how it works. In an all-female space we will challenge the often-subservient female voices that are commonly used by chat-bots or voice assistants and collaboratively create a voice assistant – written by women with a voice that we feel is more representative.

The workshop will be run by Birgitte Aga and Coral Manton, two female designers and technologists from i-DAT Research & Design Collective. The workshop is supported by Productive Margins, University of Bristol.

As part of our Commons Sense test space programme, Knowle West Media Centre invites you to a workshop for women and people who do not primarily identify as male. Learn how to make your own AI voice assistant and join in a collaboration to create an AI assistant that reflects female identity using inspirational speech from women we admire. The workshop will be a fun, sharing and collaborative space as we talk and share ideas while programming our AIs.

No previous experience of coding required. For more details contact Martha on 0117 903 0444 or e-mail

Book now online via Eventbrite.

PLEASE NOTE: the ‘Seize it, Mix it, Make it: Harnessing the Digital Differently’ event that was previously advertised to follow this workshop has been cancelled. The title of this event has been updated to reflect this.

More details from Coral and Birgitte

We’re told that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the future and we will communicate with our computers, phones and everything from banks to doctors to TVs, light switches, kettles, cars – the list is endless – using our voices. However, currently it’s believed that only 13% of people working in AI are women. If women are not involved in developing these systems and female consumers do not understand them – what problems will that create for women in the future?

Although the vast majority of AI developers are men, AI voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Bixby use female names, identities and voices. Studies revealed that both men and women respond more favourably to female speech and want their AI assistant to be ‘obedient and assisting.’

Culturally we are used to hearing female voices in subordinate or service roles. On the whole we appear more comfortable with a female-voiced AI assistant.

We don’t want voice assistants to say ‘no’ to us – and this is particularly problematic when research indicates that virtual assistants find themselves fending off endless sexual solicitations and abuse from users. Some female AIs are programmed to deflect the comments, others respond with sassy, flirtatious comebacks, and some seemingly capitulate if users are persistent enough. What happen to – no means no!?

Commons Sense Programme

This event is part of a live programme to accompany KWMC’s Commons Sense exhibition, which is open from May – September 2018. Digital sensors are all around: every day things are ‘sensed’ by smart technologies. But what data can and should be collected? Is it used for the common good or corporate gain? Commons Sense is an interactive exhibition exploring sensors, data and ‘the commons’, made in collaboration with artists Becca Rose and Pete Bennett.

This event is a collaboration with the research programme Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement, University of Bristol and is funded by the ESRC.


Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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