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Originally published as "Why We Should All Use They/Them Pronouns," Scientific American, April 11, 2019.
This week, tech developers introduced Q, the world’s first “genderless” virtual assistant. Whereas Siri, Alexa and most other electronic helpers speak in conspicuously feminine tones, Q has been engineered to create a gender-neutral effect. As a result, users can benefit from all the useful information and guidance available to us today, without reinforcing the old-fashioned idea that the role of eager helpmate is necessarily played by a woman.
But degendering is not just good for robots. It’s time we humans get serious about it too.