Colloquium: Francesca Lawson

Date(s) - 03/02/2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

3108 JKB


Francesca Lawson, Professor of Comparative Arts and Letters will present at the Humanities Center’s weekly colloquium on Thursday, March 2. The presentation will be held at 3:00 PM in room 4010 JFSB.

Title: Why Can’t Siri Sing? Discovering Narratives that Constrain Female Singing Voices in AI 

Despite the remarkable technological accomplishments in the areas of speaking and singing in AI research, this paper raises a very different issue regarding Artificial Intelligence. Drawing on James W. Carey’s argument that technology is a totem for culture (1990: 245-6), I claim that we encounter a deeply rooted ambivalence about female voices in modern America when listening closely to reactions to the singing voices of Siri and Sophia the robot—an activity that demonstrates how female AI voices are simultaneously a site of silencing as well as empowerment for women (Dunn and Jones: 1). Thus, while AI research continues to develop technologically at an astonishing rate, the underlying—and often concealed—cultural narratives about women’s singing voices are equally potent in shaping future directions for AI vocality.

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