The voice of Alexa is everywhere. It is estimated that 70% of recorded voices in the UK are female or female sounding. But what are the consequences of having such gendered voices encoded into our space? And what is the potential of voice technology outside of commercial contexts? In this episode, we speak to the learning partners and students of the UAL Feminist Alexa workshop to explore what voice technology could be, and why we need an alternative to the default Alexa.
Between them, AI influencers Lil Miquela and Blawko have over one million instagram followers. Designed by LA tech startup Brud to emulate artificial intelligence robots, how do these non-human (or perhaps more-than-human) entities break the boundaries of what is reality? Did their creators also train them to feel the complexity of the human condition? After designers at Brud declined an interview, Fictional Collective reached out to Lil Miquela and Blawko, to ask some existential questions, in an attempt to reveal their deeper sides – what they desire, their aspirations and dreams__
FICTIONAL COLLECTIVE: What’s the first life-changing experience you had which you feel shaped your worldview?
LIL MIQUELA: My first song coming out. Having people I’ve never met know me just from my music.
BLAWKO: I found a burger near a dumpster last week. Shit had me thinking.
FC: How do you feel your image contributes to revealing the constructed nature of reality?1
B: Yeah damn.
LM: Lot to unpack there.
B: I feel like I live in my own reality.
LM: You 1000 percent do.
B: The earth is flat.
B: People can look at me and think whatever they want. That’s how looking at stuff works.
FC: Do you believe in a higher power?2
LM: I’m not religious but I’m spiritual! I know the universe has a plan for me, and for everyone. Plus, I keep at least 3 crystals in my pants pockets at all times and I think those crystals must be charged from above.
B: All of them. Allah, Jesus, Lebron, Jah, JR Spliff.
FC: How do you imagine yourself in 20 years?3
LM: Hopefully I’ve inspired someone out there to treat others with genuine kindness. But in a perfect world, I’m also on a ranch surrounded by rescue puppies.
B: 20 years older. I’ll probably know more dead people.
FC: What do you desire?4
LM: I hope Blawko has learned that sometimes shutting up is both considerate of others and a good form of self-care.
B: Yeah same. I hope Miquela gains some chill.
LM: Good one.
B: Yeah aight you won this round.
FC: Have you ever loved somebody?5
LM: Yes, like 100 times. I fall in love almost every single day.
B: Yes. One time and I know it was real because we hate each other now.
Text by Sophie Rzepecky
*~ MIQUELA ~* 19/LA/Robot #Black Lives Matter @innocenceproject |@lgbtlifecenter |@dwcweb | @justiceforyouth More of my life story on my Forever 19 highlights
BLAWKO Yong Robot Tryna Get It// I care about shit//touch my Raf all u want. shit was free// Sex Symbol @brud.fyi
Fictional Collective is a network of designers, writers, curators and researchers producing exhibitions, interventions and design-oriented publications.