Should our digital devices be coded female? What is the impact to our psyche and our society of a generation observing predominantly female digital assistants inside and outside the home? And what does etiquette and politeness mean in a digital world, anyway? Cheryl was honored to be included as one of the experts on BBC Radio 4’s “The Digital Human” episode exploring this topic, entitled Subservience. Originally aired Monday, October 22 2018 and re-aired Thursday September 19 2019 on BBC Radio 4. Listen here at the bottom of this post, or check out the episode link for full information on the interviewees and deep links to content referenced.

Cheryl is available for expert consultation and media interviews (radio, TV, documentary) by contacting her at illustration of a robot doing the hair of a Victorian woman looking into a mirror.

Episode info at the BBC



Digital Assistant bots are becoming ever more common – Alexa playing music on your countertop, Siri taking notes on your phone, a little voice bubbling out of your watch to rattle off the things you almost forgot you needed to buy during the big weekend shop. They are useful little servants

But, barking orders at something that talks back, something that seems a little bit human but totally subservient… it can be a little uncomfortable. As with any new invention, domestic robots illuminate issues within human society that we may not have noticed before. Are we projecting old social norms of hierarchy and gender onto this new technology, and if we are, does how we choose to design and treat our subservient machines, impact how we treat our fellow humans?