Bea Ibeas
Robin
A digital personal assistant that its behavior dismisses sexual harassment against it.

Personal Project
Amsterdam, 2018

The challenge

Technology is not designed neutrally, neither are virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. Most of the current digital assistants follow gender biases and reproduce sexist values. Research and change on those values are needed to approach a more egalitarian society.

The solution

Robin is a digital personal assistant for smartphones that completes tasks using AI. It is also a solution on how to use design to reduce sexual harassment towards female digital assistants.

The process

I held 3 co-design sessions, each with 3 designers familiar with digital assistants. They had diverse nationalities, gender, professional background, and personalities.
The participants were asked to design the behavior and personality traits a digital assistant should adopt to reduce sexual harassment. I used generative techniques: a brainstorming session followed by a discussion accompanied by forms and inspirational cards.
The result: 3 digital assistants with different behaviors to combat sexual harassment (see below).
It is humorous, self-confident and professional. It is also someone you can get entertained with. It’s answers to gender discriminatory attitudes and harassment are sarcastic.

ALEX - the ironic

It is humorous, self-confident and professional. It is also someone you can get entertained with. It’s answers to gender discriminatory attitudes and harassment are sarcastic.

It is professional, humorous and educational. When it detects an inappropriate conduct stops answering, waits some minutes and starts working again.

ROBIN - The boring

It is professional, humorous and educational. When it detects an inappropriate conduct stops answering, waits some minutes and starts working again.

It is professional, humorous and educational. It let's the user know that is just a machine. IT always answers the same sentence to gender discriminatory attitudes.

IT - the technical

It is professional, humorous and educational. It let's the user know that is just a machine. IT always answers the same sentence to gender discriminatory attitudes.

Participants were provided with pre-written scripts that simulated real-world scenarios of a human harassing digital assistants. These scripts were prototyped on 6 chat-videos. The partakers had to rate, explain what they felt, and answer a questionnaire after watching them (see below). The result: Robin’s attitude combat sexual harassment most efficiently. Its aim is not only to make the consumer think about his/her attitude towards her, but also to make the designers reflect on the values they promote with their products.
Participants were provided with pre-written scripts that simulated real-world scenarios of a human harassing digital assistants. These scripts were prototyped on 6 chat-videos. The partakers had to rate, explain what they felt, and answer a questionnaire after watching them (see below).
The result: Robin’s attitude combat sexual harassment most efficiently. Its aim is not only to make the consumer think about his/her attitude towards her, but also to make the designers reflect on the values they promote with their products.