Re: Gender Neutral Pronouns

From: Christian L. (
Date: Fri Mar 30 2001 - 18:00:19 MST

Elezier wrote:
>This analogy honestly never occurred to me - to refer to AIs as "she" by
>analogy with, say, a ship. Okay, now I'm seriously considering switching
>to using "he" for humans and "she" for AIs.

I most strongly encourage you to do this. I feel that "ve", "vis", etc are
just plain annoying. Every time you read it, you mentally replace it with
he, himself, etc which leads to slower reading. Even if you can perhaps
train yourself out of being annoyed, that should not be allowed to hinder
your reading. The suggestion above makes it absolutely clear when you are
discussing an AI or a human. The fact that the AI does not have female
reproductive organs is a non-issue, just as it is with ships.

>I just need to decide whether
>it's worth the switch, irrespective of:
>1) How much of a pain in the neck it would be to rewrite everything;
>2) Whether the more foolish members of the male audience are likely to be
>less afraid of something that's referred to as "she".
>Both of these factors, of course, are ethically excluded from the

Point 1 is probably not a big problem: search/replace.
Point 2 is probably more important than you give it credit. Always remember
that humans are animals who make lots of decisions based on gut feeling.
Using "she" for AIs could influence the subconscious to think "mother
figure" instead of "dominant male competing for mates/resources" if you use
"Ve" just sounds strange and alien, like a robot designation. The gut
feeling would be that this is something unknown and therefore to be feared.
It does not convey the feeling of something Friendly at all, which is what
we want, isn't it?

I used "he" for AIs in my previous posts, but "she" is probably better, both
for the above reasons and for freeing up "he", referring to humans (being a
male myself, I prefer "he" for generic humans, I don't know about
others...). Remember also that warning systems in fighter aircraft uses
female voices for warnings, since it is more soothing than a male voice.

About FAI:
Is there any way to get a zipped version of FAI, so I can read it while
offline? This could be made available on the website to...

My first reason for wanting all of FAI on my local drive was to be able to
do a search/replace on those annoying vees, but I am willing to wait for you
if you go ahead with the changes you discussed... please...?

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