A Chinese tech company has pulled their “flirtatious secretary” virtual assistant after the Wall Street Journal suggested it objectified women.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the “virtual-reality avatar” named Vivi depicted a “flirtatious secretary in revealing clothes” and was in beta testing for a virtual reality headset created by iQiyi, before the company pulled the assistant just “hours after The Wall Street Journal asked whether such depictions encourage a view of women as sexual objects in the workplace.”
Vivi was reportedly able to help users with average tasks “via voice commands” but “could also flirt with users and respond to commands to dance,” which prompted users online to praise her “sexy dances, with her enchanting figure.”
Though Vivi was originally created to be an AI girlfriend, the Wall Street Journal reported that “revisions in October placed her in an office setting.”
Following complaints, iQiyi removed the virtual assistant and released a statement apologizing.
“The earlier version of the product is a beta-testing version designed to gather users’ feedback,” the company claimed. “iQiyi has noticed the issue raised by media and already taken the product offline for further modification. We’d like to make an apology for the concerns it might have raised.”
Last week, a survey revealed that more than a quarter of millennials would date a robot, with men being three times more likely to do so than women, while last month, Dr. Neil McArthur, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba, claimed society “must be prepared” for the rise of “digisexuals” who use technology as their primary sexual outlet.
“Many people will find that their experiences with this technology become integral to their sexual identity and some will prefer them to direct sexual interactions with humans,” he claimed, adding, “There is no question that sexbots are coming. People will form an intense connection with their robot companions.”