Smart Assistant Taken Down in China

By Faith Magbanua, December 15, 2017 03:12 AM


Following a notion of "objectifying women", one of China's largest tech companies has taken its "flirtatious secretary" virtual assistant offline.

The avatar, called Vivi, was designed to be built-in on a new virtual reality headset sold by iQiyi, the video platform owned by search giant Baidu.

Founded on April 22, 2010 by Baidu, Qiyi is considered as one of China's largest online search engine, and Providence Equity Partners.

The rage about Vivi

The voice-controlled assistant could recommend films and video games, but could also be made to flirt and dance. However, those are not the only features that made a fuss this week.

The virtual reality headset was first announced in March, and Vivi was promoted as a built-in "girlfriend".

Vivi appeared in an office-like setting wearing a blouse and short skirt, and said phrases such as "I am your girlfriend. You must love and adore me".

One reviewer has said that the avatar could "perform sexy dances with her enchanting figure".

Meanwhile, reports coming from US newspaper the Wall Street Journal said that they have conducted an interview to the company that released Vivi and they have asked iQiyi whether Vivi encouraged "a view of women as sexual objects in the workplace".

In response, iQiyi stated that the product was a "beta-testing version designed to gather users' feedback".

It added: "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 raised."

However, due to the growing awareness of people from around the globe of matters such as "sexual harassment" and "abuse," Vivi's inception happened at a wrong time despite its original intent.

Aside from this domestic news about the inappropriate sexual behavior of the smart assistant, inappropriate sexual behavior exhibited by high-profile business executives, media people and celebrities worldwide has been in the news for the past couple of weeks.


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