Siri's Identity

Reimagining Inclusive AI and Critiquing Today's Identity-Blindness

by Will Penman, Princeton University


YouTube Videos referenced

The project analyzes a corpus of 25 YouTube videos (plus another set of 10, part of a series). They're fun to watch! View counts are reported from corpus collection in July 2017. Note that links to the copyright-precarious videos (marked "precarious") are particularly fragile and may be dead for readers:

Other videos excerpted:

Popular outlets

Angwin, Julia, Larson, Jeff, Mattu, Surya, & Kirchner, Lauren. (2016). Machine bias. ProPublica, May 23.
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. (2014). The case for reparations. The Atlantic, June issue.
Del Ray, Jason. (2018). Amazon is selling facial recognition technology to police, allowing them to analyze ‘millions of faces in real-time’. Vox: Recode, May 22.
Farooq, Shayan. (2015). ZaidAliT is a sexist idiot. The Tempest Gender & Identity, Feb 27.
Graham, Ruth. (2019). The unique pleasures of watching Alexa deny children what they want. Slate, Family, Jan 14.
Harwell, Drew. (2018). The accent gap. The Washington Post, Jul 19.
Mendelsohn, Ben & Choclas-Wood, Alex. (2011.) Bundled, buried, and behind closed doors. Hosted on Vimeo, Oct 16.
Newman, Judith. (2014). To Siri, with love. The New York Times, pg. ST1, Oct 19.
Stern, Joanna. (2017). Alexa, Siri, Cortana: The problem with all-female digital assistants. The Wall Street Journal, Tech, Feb 21.
Shulevitz, Judith. (2018.) Alexa, should we trust you? The Atlantic, Nov issue.
Pardes, Arielle. (2018). The case for giving robots an identity. Wired, Oct 23.
Paul, Sonia. (2017.) Voice is the next big platform, unless you have an accent. Wired, Backchannel, Mar 20.
Tilley, Aaron & McLaughlin, Kevin. (2018). The seven-year itch: How Apple's marriage to Siri turned sour. The Information, Mar 14.
Tsukayama, Hayley. (2018). Amazon's Alexa will soon be teaching your child manners. The Washington Post, The Switch, Apr 25.
wikiHow contributors. (2019). How to make Siri say funny things. wikiHow, accessed June 2019.

Scholarly references

Alexander, Jonathan & Rhodes, Jacqueline. (2014). Flattening effects: Composition's multicultural imperative and the problem of narrative coherence. College Composition and Communication, 65(3), 430-454.
Arnould, Eric J. & Thompson, Craig J. (2005). Consumer culture theory (CCT): Twenty years of research. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 868-882.
Arola, Kristin L. (2012). It's my revolution: Learning to see the mixedblood. In Composing(Media)=Composing(Embodiment), Arola, Kristin K. & Wysocki, Anne, Eds. University Press of Colorado, Utah State University Press.
Banks, Adam J. (2011). Digital griots: African American rhetoric in a multimedia age. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Beck, Estee N. (2015). The invisible digital identity: Assemblages in digital networks. Computers and Composition, 35, 125-140.
Benwell, Bethan & Stokoe, Elizabeth. (2006). Discourse and identity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.
Brahnam, Sheryl & De Angeli, Antonella. (2012). Gender affordances of conversational agents. Interacting with Computers, 24, 139-153.
Brahnam, Sheryl & Weaver. (2015). Re/framing virtual conversational partners: A feminist critique and tentative move towards a new design paradigm. In: Marcus, Aaron. (Ed.) Design, user experience, and usability: Users and interactions. Berkley: Springer.
Brock, Kevin & Shepherd, Dawn. (2016). Understanding how algorithms work persuasively through the procedural enthymeme. Computers and Composition, 42, 17-27.
Brown, James Jr. (2014). The machine that therefore I am. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 47(4), 494-514.
Bucholtz, Mary & Hall, Kira. (2005). Identity and interaction: A sociocultural linguistic approach. Discourse Studies, 7(4-5), 585-614.
Buolamwini, Joy & Gebru, Timnit. (2018). Gender shades: Intersectional accuracy disparities in commercial gender classification. Proceedings of Machine Learning Research, 81, 1-15.
Cloud, Doug. (2017). Rewriting a discursive practice: Atheist adaptation of coming out discourse. Written Communication, 34(2), 165-188.
Coleman, Miles C. (2018). Machinic rhetorics and the influential movements of robots. Review of Communication, 18(4), 336-351.
Constanza-Chock, Sasha. (2018). Design justice, A.I., and escape from the matrix of domination. JoDS.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory, and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1, 139-168.
Crenshaw, 1991. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.
Davila, Bethany. (2012). Indexicality and “Standard” edited American English: Examining the link between conceptions of standardness and perceived authorial identity. Written Communication, 29(2), 180-207.
Davis, Diane. (2010). Inessential Solidarity: Rhetoric and foreigner relations. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press..
Davis, Shardé M. (2018). Taking back the power: An analysis of Black women’s communicative resistance. Review of Communication, 18(4), 301-318.
Dickinson, Greg. (2002). Joe's rhetoric: Finding authenticity at Starbucks. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 32(4), 5-27.
Elish, M. C. & boyd, danah. (2018). Situating methods in the magic of Big Data and AI. Communication Monographs, 85(1), 57-80.
Eyman, Douglas. (2015). Digital rhetoric: Theory, method, practice. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Fancher, Patricia. (2018). Embodying Turing’s machine: Queer, embodied rhetorics in the history of digital computation. Rhetoric Review, 37(1), 90-104.
Gallagher, John R. (2017). Writing for algorithmic audiences. Computers and Composition, 45, 25-35.
Heath, Shirley Brice. (1983). Ways with words: Language, life, and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Holmes, Steve. (2018). The rhetoric of videogarmes as embodied practice: Procedural habits. New York: Routledge.
Huckin, Thomas, Andrus, Jennifer, & Clary-Lemon, Jennifer. (2012). Critical discourse analysis and rhetoric and composition. College Composition and Communication, 64(1), 107-129.
Ingraham, Chris. (2014). Toward an algorithmic rhetoric. In Digital rhetorics and global literacies: Communication modes and digital practices in the networked world, Verhulsdonck, Gustav & Limbu, Marohang (Eds.) Hershey: IGI Global.
Jaszi, Peter & Aufderheide, Pat. (2010.) Code of best practices in fair use for scholarly research in communication. The International Communication Association, June.
Johnstone, Barbara. (2013). Speaking Pittsburghese: The story of a dialect. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kennedy,Tammie M., Middleton, Joyce Irene, & Ratcliffe, Krista. (2017). "Introduction: Oxymoronic whiteness—from the White House to Ferguson." In Rhetorics of whiteness: Postracial hauntings in popular culture, social media, and education, Kennedy,Tammie M., Middleton, Joyce Irene, & Ratcliffe, Krista (Eds.). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Kerschbaum, Stephanie L. (2012). Avoiding the difference fixation: Identity categories, markers of difference, and the teaching of writing. College Composition and Communication, 63(4), 616-644.
Lueck, Amy.(2013). Writing a translingual script: Closed captions in the English multilingual hearing classroom. Kairos, 17(3). Retrieved Apr 8, 2019, from
McFarlane, Nicole Ashanti, & Snell, Nicole E. (2017). Color deafness: White writing as palimpsest for African American English in Breaking Bad screen captioning and video technologies. In Rhetorics of whiteness: Postracial hauntings in popular culture, social media, and education, Kennedy,Tammie M., Middleton, Joyce Irene, & Ratcliffe, Krista (Eds.). Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Morgan, Marcyliena. (2002). Language, discourse and power in African American culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nielsen, Danielle. (2015). Identity performance in roleplaying games. Computers and Composition, 38, 45-56.
Noble, Safiya. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York: New York University Press.
Penman, Will. (2018.) 'I'll take it from here': Amazon's playful argument for us to avoid alterity relations with artificial intelligence. NCA presentation, recording.
Pleiss, Geoff, Raghavan, Manish, Wu, Felix, Kleinberg, Jon, & Weinberger, Killian Q. (2017). On fairness and calibration. 31st Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS).
Ranger, Graham. (2010.) Review: Style: Language Variation and Change, by Nikolas Coupland. Cercles.
Ratcliffe, Krista. (2005). Rhetorical listening: Identification, gender, whiteness. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.
Rossing, Jonathan Paul. (2014). Prudence and racial humor: Troubling epithets. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 31(4), 299-313.
Rossing, Jonathan P. (2016). A sense of humor for civic life: A strong defense of humor. Studies in American Humor, 4(1), 1-21.
Sauntson, Helen. (2015). Coming out stories. In The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, ed. Whelehan, Patricia & Bolin, Anne. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Sheff, Elisabeth & Hammers, Corie. (2011). The privilege of perversities: Race, class and education among polyamorists and kinksters. Psychology & Sexuality, 2(3), 198-223.
Silk, Catherine, & Silk, John. (1990). Racism and anti-racism in American popular culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Strait, Megan, Ramos, Ana Sánchez, Contreras, Virginia, & Garcia, Noemi. (2018). Robots racialized in the likeness of marginalized social identities are subject to greater dehumanization than those racialized as white. Proceedings of the 27th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication, Nanjing, China.
Walkinshaw, Ian, Mitchell, Nathaniel, & Subhan, Sophiaan. (2019). Self-denigration as a relational strategy in lingua franca talk: Asian English speakers. Journal of Pragmatics, 139, 40-51.
Warde, Alan. (1994). Consumption, identity-formation and uncertainty. Sociology, 28(4), 877-898.
Woods, Heather Suzanne. (2018). Asking more of Siri and Alexa: Feminine persona in service of surveillance capitalism. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 35(4), 334-349.