Look Up and Smile! Seeing through Alexa’s Algorithmic Gaze

Parvin, Nassim
Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

Echo Look is one latest product by Amazon built on the artificial intelligence agent Alexa designed to be a virtual fashion assistant. This paper draws on feminist theory to critically engage with the premises and promises of this new technology. More specifically, I demonstrate how the introduction of Echo Look is an occasion to think through ethical and political issues at stake in the particular space it enters, in this case no less than what is perceived of (women’s) bodies and what fashion is and does. In addition, the specific domain helps us see this category of technology anew, illuminating its taken-for-granted assumptions. More specifically, it serves as yet another reminder of what algorithms cannot do and of their oppressive potency.