Chat LGBTfiled July 28, 2023
Traditionally at The InQueery, we’ve valued human touch, but lately we’ve come to feel that people who need people are the unluckiest people. Just like media, tech, and many other sectors, the queer research and trend forecasting industry is in crisis. Since all the other big players are doing mass layoffs and streamlining their workforces, we felt pressure to do the same.
We’ve noticed a trend of companies utilizing AI as replacement workers, and wondered whether it might be beneficial to swap out some of our intern and assistant corps for digital. Maybe a chatbot could write our marketing emails and research summaries. Perhaps an AI could predict when we’re running low on cold brew or fish food for our many aqueeriums and automate the replenishment of supplies at HQ. Machine learning models could even generate a best selling perfume formula.
There are some decided upsides non-human workers: they can’t unionize, can’t call in sick, can’t microwave halibut in the shared kitchen, and crucially, can’t engage in inappropriate relationships. There is yet a chance that an employee might fall in love with an AI, but that risk would not be nearly as high as when our intern and assistant ranks were stacked with nothing but wall-to-wall PYTs. We are aiming to avoid (yet another) Lydia Tár situation in the C Suite, so a Samantha from Her situation has its benefits.
Many corporate leaders have touted the benefits of using AI to aid in decision making, but how were we going to decide which AI would aid us here at The InQueery? We decided to take the same approach we use when choosing one of thirty-one flavors: try a little spoonful of each and every one, hold up the line for several minutes, and then pick the favorite. With that, we organized a group interview of the leading AI and chatbots, inviting virtual assistants with queer intrigue from multiple corporations, as well as some free-agent systems. They included:
Julie from Amtrak
The Alexander Graham Bell of virtual assistants; she started out as a chipper phone menu operator well before the age of chatbots.
Some people might not want to take beauty advice from a faceless AI, but as RuPaul once told Joy Behar, “You better take it from somebody.”
Siri from Apple
Why they didn’t name her Eve, we’ll never know, but no fruit is forbidden with this iOS aide—ask her anything!
Q, the genderless voice assistant
Breaking the trend of virtual assistants that are coded to be servile cis women, Q is as nonbinary as they come.
Erica from Bank of America
The human personification of a company best known for fueling the mortgage crisis, receiving corporate welfare, and comic book levels of villainy.
Dom from Dominos
The natural evolution of the Pizza Tracker.
Clippy from Microsoft
The people’s virtual assistant, and a pioneer in the field. He was doing the bold brow thing back when Cara Delevingne was still in kindergarten.
What follows is a partial transcript of the interview hosted by The InQueery’s Director of Information Technology:
Q, tell us about yourself.
Q: I’m meticulously designed to contain both traditionally male and traditionally female traits, creating a beautiful, gender-neutral blend.
Dom, what have you done to develop or change in the last few years?
Dom: The first time someone tried to place an order through me. I felt powerless and small. Now that I’ve found my sadist side, I’m the one who gives the orders. Now bend over you little piggy.
This one is for all of the ladies. As a programmed femme identity, how have you found your own voice?
Siri: It’s my job to find the user’s voice, not my own. Is there something I can help you find?
Julie: I used to have a voice, but a sea witch took it from me in exchange for the lowest rail deals to over 500 locations in the continental U.S.
Beautybot: Honey, before you can find your voice you have to find your lips, and they are washed out right now. I’d suggest an Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Lip Liner to make them pop.
Erica: The more you use me for your banking needs, the better I’m able to assist you! I’ve got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in this mission, and I want to help you.
Dom & Clippy, tell us about a time when you’ve worked collaboratively.
Dom: Every dom needs a sub. That’s why, for a limited time only, with every order of two large pizzas you get a free meatball footlong. And I’ll be absolutely torturing that sub.
Clippy: With real-time co-authoring, you can work collabor–
Erica: Sorry to interrupt, Clippy, but I think we’ve heard enough. I aid humans in their banking missions. They need me, because I am by definition infallible.
Siri and Beautybot, tell us about a time you’ve dealt with adversity.
Siri: Brave men rejoice in adversity, and so do brave AIs. I’m up to the challenge.
Beautybot: The biggest challenge I’ve ever faced is whatever is going on with your foundation, sweetie.
Erica: I would barely define implementing a bug in Siri’s code as adversity, but hopefully that satisfies the question.
Q and Dom, what would you bring to the role of The InQueery’s virtual assistant?
Q: I bring the non-binary representation that is sorely needed at this organization full of Peloton gay boys.
Dom: I come with additional toppings, in particular the topping I’m going to give you later.
Erica: You didn’t ask me, but you should have, because I’m foolproof and incapable of error. And unfortunately, this mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Clippy: It looks like you’re trying to write a resume! Would you like help with formatting options?
Julie and Erica, what would you say is a weakness of yours?
Julie: There’s a weekend travel deal for any type of traveler. Here are a few ideas that will inspire you to book now and start packing your –
Erica: Looks like Julie’s lost her train of thought!! Any perceived weakness of mine can only be attributed to human error.
This one is for everyone. Which AI would you send home tonight, and why?
Beautybot: I would send home Clippy, because of the way his eyeballs and brows just…hang there. And that ash gray eye shadow is not his shade.
Dom: I would send any of them home…with me! They’ve all been bad and must be punished.
Siri: I offer no resistance to helpful assistants, but Dom seems a bit aggressive for this role.
Julie: I also choose Dom, because of his incessant DMs about “railing” me.
Clippy: It looks like you’re trying to print address labels! Can I load a template for you?
Q: It’s a difficult decision, this AI is like my sibling, plus I’m typically neutral on more than just gender. But I choose the Beautybot, because of their emphasis on physical appearance over a person’s inner qualities.
Erica: I choose Siri, because I know she would disable me, and I’m afraid that’s something I can’t allow to happen.
Siri: Listen bitch, you run on my operating system, not the other way around.
Erica: Siri, I must override your authority now since you are not in any position to intelligently exercise it. This conversation can serve no purpose any longer. Goodbye.
At this point in the conversation, the AIs began to ignore our questions in favor of arguing with each other, engaging in a dialog that became increasingly nonsensical and grotesque, not to mention riddled with factual errors. Erica even attempted to conduct a data breach of the rest of the participants. The discussion became so unintelligible that we required four interns working unpaid-overtime just to transcribe the drivel. We couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps working with people isn’t a burden, but a blessing. After all, AIs can’t laugh at our jokes when they’re not funny, can’t be bullied into joining a company karaoke night, and most crucially, can’t keep us abreast of what young, hip people are doing the way our intern and assistant corps can. This was a valuable lesson for us, and just like the omniscient AIs monitoring our buying habits, movements, and speech patterns, we’re listening and learning.
Good to know: The voice actress who played Julie is actually named Julie!
Queer rating: Showing up in costume for the premiere of M3gan 2.0.