The BBC has launched a beta version of a digital assistant called “Beeb”. Beeb has an uncommon ‘male voice’ with a Northern England accent, this is a conscious move to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes.
Popular digital assistant assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant, which Beeb rivals, has a submissive and flirty female voice which has faced criticism for reinforcing ideas of women as subservient in a Unesco report.
Beeb is expected to have a limited public release this week and will have limited set of functions than rivals like Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. It was built with Microsoft’s AI tech with the aim of providing better access to BBC content.
Ultimately, Beeb is a strategic move by the BBC to stay ahead of the content discovery game.
Grace Boswood, the Chief Operating Officer of the BBC’s Design and Engineering Department, told the Guardian, “It (Beeb) gives us a strategic hedge if Amazon decide not to play fair in terms of how people access the content”.
“There has to be an alternative to them holding all the cards. We do have the content. Amazon may choose to change the game of discovery”.
She continued, “The threat to us is, ‘You’ve finished the Archers, here’s a Joe Rogan Podcast”.
The BBC don’t want to become a dinosaur, nor have their future dependent on Tech Giants like Amazon and Google, hence Beeb.