In this age of outrage and upset, how is it possible we seem to have missed a golden opportunity to launch a movement?

Vodafone has a new AI assistant. I'm not into these things, but I assume she is there to answer questions in an intuitive way, and save you dealing with humans who are never there anyway.

That's why were all permanently on hold, if not transferred to a third world country to deal with a person who doesn't really speak English.


Vodafone unveils 'Kiri' - its locally developed virtual human

Anyway, Vodafone's AI assistant is called Kiri. She is not unique, Air New Zealand has Sophie, ASB has Josie and ANZ has Jamie.

Now do you spot the problem? They're all women. Why no men? In this age of fairness, balance, #metoo, enough is enough, pay equity and gender equality, where are the men?

So one of two things has happened here. One, in the meetings, and you know that corporations don't do anything like this without 93 meetings and a lot of whiteboards, projectors and 'blue skying', but in those meetings they either deliberately after much consultation decided their AI assistant would be a woman.

Or perhaps even more startlingly, and if this is the case we will never actually be told, Jamie, Josie, Sophie, and Kiri just were created female by assumption and osmosis.

Now either way, it doesn't really matter.

Why are they female? Are they female because the assumption or decision was that females are better at answering simple questions? Better at menial tasks? Like how to top up data or which way it is to the Koru Lounge.

And if that's the case, where has all the equality gone? No one is leading the new age of touchy, feely equality more than corporations.


Can it be that in a moment of cold, hard, honest reality they've let that particular facade slip? And the simple truth is, deep down, we all perceive certain tasks as gender specific?

Could the reason that we don't have 50/50 CEOs and board members be that women, as a whole, don't want, like, or desire those sort of jobs in vast numbers?

Or, and here's your alternative, are the blokes being deliberately discriminated against? Could these corporations have given a great deal of consideration to the sex of these robots and decided women are nicer, kinder, easier to deal with, more welcomed by the customer base?

If that's the case, blokes need to start a movement. Because this is blatant and overt discrimination. They're saying men aren't up to being AI robots, that there is a customer barrier to blokes doing this sort of work, and if that's the case, this is a ceiling that needs shattering.

Men in this day and age cannot, we will not be held back from having equal access to new employment opportunities in the tech age. If this is way we are going to be treated, we will all end up on the AI scrapheap before we know it. Undervalued, underused and underpaid.

It's not fair, and it needs to stop. Corporate New Zealand needs to step up and explain themselves.