Syb: Queering voice AI

#feministinternet #queeringvoiceai #syb
Feminist Internet
Cami Rincòn

Syb is a voice interface designed by and for trans people which connects users to media created by the trans community. The project was developed through a participatory design process with a team of trans and non-binary people.

What will you be working on during the fellowship?

Through the fellowship we aim to develop our prototype into a functioning interface. Our current iteration is limited to a single set of choices that users can make, and our next steps will be to expand our conversation design and database, incorporating natural language processing (NLP) software into the interface. At the end of the fellowship we hope to have achieved a functional interface that can effectively guide users through a wider series of choices that will lead them to relevant pieces of trans media.

To what future do you aspire?

We aspire to a future where trans people can safely embody themselves, having the agency to actualise their desires. In this future, technology is developed by and for trans people, using data to promote community wellbeing. Users have autonomy over their data and thus, any exchange supports a shared goal. Syb draws from a community-built database of trans media, connecting users to content that promotes trans joy, enabling them to imagine new and more liberating futures for themselves.

Tell us about yourselves. What motivates you?

It is crucial that marginalised people’s needs are centred in emerging technologies. Syb was informed by Cami Rincòn’s research identifying trans needs in voice AI (accepted at ACM’s 2021 conference on computer-supported cooperative work and social computing) and Feminist Internet’s previous projects, which include chatbots to tackle AI bias and online harassment. Our prototype was built using Voiceflow, who have expressed interest in further supporting this project, which received its initial funding from the UAL Creative Computing Institute.