Petition wants Alexa and Siri to take a tougher stand on sexual harassment

The #MeToo revolution has become a defining moment in 2017. CEOs, media moguls, politicians and others who have been accused of some form of sexual harassment have seen their careers toppled and reputations ruined as a result of their victims coming forward.

Related: This Life: Is sexual harassment only about men behaving badly?

Now people are asking for bots to stand up to sexual harassment as well. A petition targeting Amazon and Apple wants their Alexa and Siri, to respond negatively when users issue negative or sexist commands.

“Tech should help to positively change, not perpetuate, societal ills. If we as a society want to move past a place where sexual harassment is permitted, it's time for Apple and Amazon to reprogram their bots to push back against sexual harassment,” writes Care2.

The petition asks that tech companies take the opportunity to develop artifical intelligence “in a way that creates a kinder world.”

More than 7,600 supporters have signed the petition which has a goal of 10,000. It isn’t the first time the public has been vocal about the sexism inherent in the women’s voices used for bots.

In February, as more and more revelations surfaced about workplace harassment in the tech world, part of the conversation was reserved for Siri, Alexa and Cortana -- the names of the women’s voices used on devices.

Research has shown that the female voice is more appealing to both men and women for these roles, but some people have expressed concern that the women respond in stereotypical subservient ways when certain questions were asked.

A Quartz story tested bots like Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and Google's Google Home to see what their response would be to sexually inappropriate comments.

The story concluded that at best, the devices offered lackluster responses to sexual harassment. Users could verbally abuse their assistants without being admonished or corrected, thereby sending the message that it is okay.