Last Updated on August 27, 2022
A tech company based in California has begun to use artificial intelligence to edit the voices of customer service workers to “sound whiter.”
The company, named Sanas, has been accused of “bias and racism” since their A.I. will edit the tone and accent of Indian call center representatives to “sound whiter.”
Sanas named the A.I.’s technology “accent translation” and believes it will better one’s customer support experience since it will trick callers into believing they are talking to proper English-speaking Americans.
Critics of the company’s technology and its purpose protested it was “bias and racism” and “reinforces” racial biases. One internet ethics researcher, Nayana Prakash, slammed Sanas’ supposed racism:
“Outsourced workers in India have suffered from this kind of bias and racism for decades – in many ways this technology is just a glamourised solution for something that has been going on for a long time.
The idea that AI should be used as a solution when the problem is the underlying bias and anxiety of Western consumers really places the issue squarely on the shoulders of the workers, rather than questioning these prejudices as they occur in the customers.”
The president of Sanas, Marty Sarim, pushed back on Prakash’s take on the AI technology. Sarim said the technology is used to stop customer service “misunderstandings” which may stem from foreign accents negatively affecting communication.
“We don’t want to say that accents are a problem because you have one. They’re only a problem because they cause bias and they cause misunderstandings,” Sarim explained.
The company’s president touted how this will help outsource the work of Americans since it’s “cheaper to take calls in other countries.”
“Obviously, it’s cheaper to take calls in other countries than it is in America – that’s for Fortune 100, Fortune 500, Fortune 1,000 companies. Which is why all the work has been outsourced,” he told The Guardian.
Stay tuned to National File for any updates.