Gendered AI: Gender of Master Correlations

The Gendered AI series looks at sci-fi movies and television to see how Hollywood treats AI of different gender presentations. For example…

  • Do female-presenting AIs get different bodies than male-presenting AIs? Yes.
  • Are female AIs more subservient? No.
  • How does gender correlate to an AI’s goodness? Males are extremists.

This particular post asks who are the master of AIs. If you haven’t read the series intro, related master distributions, or correlations 101 posts, I recommend you read them first. As always, check out the live Google sheet for the most recent data.

Barbarella (female-presenting human) is master of Alphy (an AI whose voice presents male.) This is, statistically, an unlikely and unrepresentative relationship, but spot on for the late 01960s-feminist bent of Barbarella.

You may be wondering how this is different than the earlier subservience posts. Recall that the subservience studies look at gender presentation of AI as it relates to their own degree of freedom. Are most AIs freewilled? Yes. Do free-willed AI tend to present as boys more often than as girls or other? Yes. But these tell us nothing about the gender relationship of the subservient AIs to their master’s gender. It would be one thing if all the male-presenting AIs were “owned” by male-presenting owners. If would be another if female-presenting AIs were owned much more often by male-presenting masters. This post exposes those correlations in the survey. Chart time!

Data nerds (high fives) may note that unlike every other correlations chart in the series, these numbers don’t balance. For instance, looking at the Male AI in the left chart, -1.63 + 3.97 + 3.97 = 6.31. Shouldn’t they zero out? If we were looking at the entire survey, they would. But in this case, free-willed AI only muddy this picture, so those AIs are omitted, making the numbers seem wonky. Check the live sheet if you’re eager to dig into the data.

This is two charts in one.

The left chart groups the data by genders of master. Turns out if you have a female-presenting master, you are unlikely to be male- or female-presenting. (Recall that there are only 5 female-presenting masters in the entire Gendered AI survey, so the number of data points is low.) If you present as male, you’re more likely to be master of a gendered AI. Otherwise, you are more likely to be master of a male-presenting AI.

Your AI may not be happy about it, though.

The right chart is the same data, but pivoted to look at it from genders of AI. That’s where the clusters are a little more telling.

  • If you are a female-presenting AI, you are more likely to have a male-presenting master.
  • If you are non-binary AI, you are more likely to have a female-presenting master.
  • If you are a male AI, you have anything but a female-presenting master.

The detailed chart doesn’t reveal anything more than we see from this aggregate, so isn’t shown.

The notion of people owning people is revolting, but the notion of owning an AI is still not universally reviled. (With nods to the distinctions of ANI and AGI.) That means that sci-fi AI serves as unique metaphor for taboo questions of gender and ownership. The results are upsetting for their social implications, of course. And sci-fi needs to do better. Hey, maybe this gives you an idea…

And yet this isn’t the most upsetting correlations finding in the study. I saved that for last, which is next, which is when we look at gender and germaneness. Gird your loins.

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