in the hope that it will in turn discourage similar behaviour towards real women
Cortana's programming might help solve the GIFT issue where otherwise normal people act like assholes when they are unable to see the people they are acting out at, but since humans behave differently when presented with a computer and with a live human, it will probably do very little for actual human interaction.
I think it's a very reasonable thing to do in order to discourage behavior that is universally looked upon as bad. Yes, being abusive to software does no harm to the software, but if you can have your chatbot, or whatever you want to classify Cortana as in this scenario, act in a way that does not fuel this behavior (which let's face it would only be done by idiots), without compromising the functionality of the tool, then I support Microsoft's efforts.
Our communication with each other is coarsening at a fast enough rate as it is.
Most of them.
That's the entire purpose of the interface. To function as though you were interacting with a real person. Your objection, then, would be to the existence of virtual assistants and similar interfaces in general, not this specific implementation. That is, if that was your actual objection.
Oh, I see. Are we going to the old "code words" argument, where you argue with what you think I should have said so you can slip in a disqualification? I know it's easier to win, but it's dishonest and poinless. How can I take you seriously if even you think your point of view is too weak to stand up in honest debate?
Yes, the interface functions as if I were interacting with a real person, but that's because nobody wants to learn a new language to give verbal commands to my smartphone. It's not because the phone is a person.
Besides, if you ask the average modern positivist and they'll tell you that people are machines. This, apparently, isn't controversial on Slashdot, being a common assumption here. (Your objection to virtual assistants stands in opposition to that, in that it privileges humans over machines.)
I don't really care what "the average modern positivist", whatever the hell that means, thinks on the subject. From a practical standpoint the idea just falls apart. Shall we charge people with murder for breaking a phone?
Not being able to engage in pretend harassment of pretend women, if the comments here are any indication, is considered by the average Slashdot user as the worst thing ever.
And there you are again twisting what people are saying into an attack. That's not the objection. The objection is the idea we should be expected to treat a machine as something other than a machine.
In context of this discussion, how should I have interpreted your objection? A general admonishment of context sensitive natural language interfaces, or as I did initially?
Why don't you assume the text of the objection I'm making is the one you should respond to instead of looking for code words and dog whistles and whatever else you've primed yourself to expect?
Yes, I think it's a negative thing. You can not act inappropriately to a machine you own. It's simply not possible. The people who are simple enough to pick up social cues from this are really learning to treat anything that sounds like a person as a person, instead of to treat people like people because they're people.
You're off on a tangent.
Let me rephrase: "To expect people to treat this thing like a real person is to reduce people to the status of machines." Whether it sounds like a woman or a man is completely irrelevant.
I find your willingness to engage in this kind of anthropomorphization disgusting. Do you say "please" and "thank you" to it? You're cheapening the very idea of personhood by pretending this thing is a woman.
Everyone knows that our CPUs don't execute ASCII, right?
To be pedantic, they do execute some ASCII files.
As cyberpunk dystopias go, this one isn't so bad. Hell, they pay me six figures to sit in front of a computer and write programs, something that I like to do anyway. I'll take that over subsistence farming or menial labor any day of the week.
Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse