I wrote extensively about this for Mondo 2000: (http://www.mondo2000.com/2018/01/17/pink-lexical-goop-dark-s...)
> In our analysis we treat words with equivalent meanings but with different spellings (e.g. color versus colour) as distinct words...
I think it's a bit of a stretch to use that to say that English lexicon is shrinking. The number of different spellings for the same words is, yes, but that's not necessarily bad. Other articles suggest that English vocabulary is still steadily growing: https://www.theguardian.com/media/mind-your-language/2016/fe...
I think you made good points regarding QuickType though.
I just chose shows as an example. But I feel the same happens with reading, music, technology, politics, etc.
It might be the way around. This kind of intellectual homogenization might indicate an emergent entity coming to being - some kind of (new?) societal organism, sort of like national state, but I don't know what it actually is this time. We might never learn.
Memes would be the basic building blocks of any organism that emerged from the manner in which replicated ideas collectively reacted to the environment. Arguably this describes human culture, though I think that's a long way from exhibiting independent intelligence (but maybe we'd be incapable of recognizing it).
Presumably something could emerge from the collective interaction of such meme-based organisms. Though like with ants, where the phenomena of an anthill can also be understood directly in terms of genes (all the ants are siblings), I suspect it could really just be reduced to the interplay of mutually reinforcing memes.
I wonder what the analog to delineating the internal and external environment is in the meme-based universe....
One of the examples used to illustrate the point was beavers' dams. So 'meme' always did exactly mean persistent phenomena like anthills and tuna shoals (although 'collective animals' would be a subcategory, it referred to more than just those). The word has recently been semantically narrowed into meaning 'a picture on the internet with some words on it'; sadly, in my opinion. The original meaning was much more interesting and useful as it ties in with Darwinism, or the theory of evolution applied more broadly and to things which aren't necessarily biological organisms.
Apparently Dawkins isn't bothered by it himself though and likes the current usage (or so I read somewhere).
The communication with bots and computer systems that are designed to interact with humans and equipped with the so-called "AI" is of similar nature: it seems there is some exchange, but it's very shallow and limited by the abilities of the receiving end - you can never transmit anything new, anything that the system is unable to understand. Continued use of such systems might have hard to predict consequences.
So this alleged culling of the lexicon by the spellchecker is largely a shakeout of non-words.
Firefox's edit widget is underlining "spellchecker" in red, but I'm hitting [reply] anyway. I don't think it needs a hyphen that badly.
I really wonder how global language will change over the next century. I would really like to know if English continues to borrow from other languages or all these dictionaries are going to stop that.
<meta property="og:description" content="Mondo 2000 The original magazine of cyberculture returns. Watch out for your overcoats!" />
Which was actually more helpful than the twitter or facebook bio texts :P
that's why we need them :-P
It's mostly manageable on a laptop because it's easy to go back and edit text and make your computer behave. On a phone it's ducking^Wducking^Wfucking infuriating because you can automatically get the same correction a good two or three times before you can get the word you want, and you are very actively fighting a tool that is trying too hard to help, to the point it will deliberately misinterpret your keypress if it thinks it has a better idea of what you wanted to type.
Only fix I've found is to manually make the word a shortcut for itself (e.g. shortcut "its" for "its") so that when I type the word it inserts itself and is not auto-corrected.
I recently saw a signature board for honor students posted at a high school. The signatures from the early 1990s were all in cursive and every signature had its own style. The signatures from 2017 were mostly printed in block letters and looked like something a first or second grader would have written. It was pretty sad.
It is relieving the human of the work of actually thinking about what they want to say and how they want to say it-- that's the thing that the human should be doing, and needs to know how to do to be an effective thinker and an effective participant in society.
How a person speaks and writes tells you about how they think-- that is what language does; it opens a window into the mind of another person. With this tool, I am no longer looking into the mind of my conversation partner, I am looking into the mind of some sophisticated statistical aggregate of a huge population of Google users.
This kind of thing is a huge insult and injury to human communication.
My phone-thumb-typing voice is different to my laptop voice is different to my handwritten voice. I can’t prove this but I believe it is true.
And of course this new development is actually proposing phrases. This seems really new.
At least, until some Doomsday scenario arrives.
If you don't learn the meaning of words and how to spell them, and how to construct a grammatically correct sentence without the assistance of a computer, you become mentally weak just as you become physically weak if you never exercise your muscles.
Students are losing the ability to think. The ability to think is what is being fundamentally eroded by this sort of automation. Nobody tries to solve problems. They just reflexively google the question, or ask Siri or Alexa, and accept the first answer without giving a lot of thought to whether it even makes sense. I've caught myself doing it.
More and more we are having our worldview formed not by critical thinking and development of our own opinions, but by what Google and other big media companies tell us.
> Composing text deliberately by hand forces a more measured pace of thought and development of ideas
Penmanship is orthogonal to the ability to write by hand. I for example have atrocious hand writing and can still easily write my thoughts down, and often do. Other's will have trouble with my written notes, but they're not meant for external consumption, I type for that purpose. Cursive versus print style writing are mostly interchangeable for writing down ideas, and learning to write well in cursive takes up to a few years. It may not be time well spent.
> I've even heard educators say that it's not worth teaching arithmetic anymore because everyone has a computer, or a phone with a calculator.
I know a number of teachers, and try to follow trends in US education, and I've never encountered this idea. Are you sure you aren't constructing a straw man here?
> Spelling is also not given much importance these days, with "creative" spelling being acceptable at least through the elementary grades. Even in high school it isn't given a lot of weight.
At least in the US, this is not the case. Any state that uses the Common Core follows these  standards, including phonics, building words from stems, and differentiation of homophones.
>If you don't learn the meaning of words
Who's saying anything about this? This tech looks like it just guesses at the banal pleasantries you type at friends and colleagues 1000s of times per year. I know I write the same phrases almost to exhaustion, I'd love to autocomplete the trivial stuff, and spare my hands an wrists. *note there's a great accessibility story here, where people with manual impairments will be able to answer emails more easily.
> Students are losing the ability to think.
Are they really? I'm not sure there's any evidence of this actually happening.
> More and more we are having our worldview formed not by critical thinking and development of our own opinions, but by what Google and other big media companies tell us.
How is this any different than mass media dissemination of information from the previous generation, when everyone watched the same 4 TV channels and read the same 1 or 2 newspapers.
They may have had fabulous penmanship but I could tap out Morse code faster than they could type.
I think children these days do not appreciate the art of text.
I am now trying to learn French, and I find myself searching to the most trivial sentences in linguee.fr. Learning grammar and vocabulary is one thing; knowing the idiomatic way to express one's message is an entirely different beast. Things that might seem obvious to a native speaker, e.g. the difference between "I'm fine" and "I'm good," are completely unapproachable for a non-native speaker for the first few years of using the language. Now that I am fluent in English, I would find this feature annoying. But I wish I had access to something like this 10 years ago.
1. A program I'm actually interested in and with which I can engage. And access to same.
2. Differences between: Spoken and written language. Dialect versus "standard usage".
3. Passive as opposed to active participation. (Also, I seem to have forgotten my original point 3.)
Even when I'm not entirely certain, what I've gained through this gives me a starting point in having an idea of what the/a proper idiom may be, which I can then take to the Web if I need further research/verification.
I wish I'd had access to such resources when I was learning my first languages. Instead, I was largely limited to the classroom and the professor for such exposure. (In most of the U.S., and with other than Spanish and perhaps family and friends, foreign languages are -- were, certainly, a generation ago -- "far away".)
And music. I happened across some that I enjoyed. If nothing else, this helped give me more sense of the sound of the language.
Of course the problem with romaji is our habit of spelling things wrong :-) To highlight the irony, "romaji" in Japanese is ローマ字 (literally roman (Roma) characters (Ji)). The ロ is "ro", the マ is "ma" and the 字 is "ji". But there is one character left! ー extends the "o" sound for the "ro" for one extra "beat" (Japanese is a rhythmical language). I don't even know the correct transliteration for this other than "rōmaji". For Wāpuro rōmaji I think I would enter "roumaji", but I think this is not actually correct romanisation.
Even to this day I mispronounce that word because of stupid romaji :-)
How's it different from opening up your android phone and using google's spellcheck, with algorithms that predict your next word when you're typing?
Never seen such atrociously negative comments to what's essentially a cool feature you can disable.
PS: How many of the outraged people here are actually voting with their wallet and paying for something like Fastmail? (https://www.fastmail.com)
One, AI mediation of language sees issues like bias amplification (AI learns our biases then suggests them back to us). Google itself wrote about this recently .
Two, spell check has a homogenizing effect on spelling . If you extend this to the level of phrases, that will homogenize not just spelling but the very way we talk.
Maybe they're using only my emails to train a model for me, and turning that feature off disables them doing so. Maybe they're using everyone's email to train a generic model.
Of course, they've been (machine) reading your emails to provide ads since forever, so in that sense maybe this isn't really that new. That said, many people habituated to email reading for ads back when Google's brand image was riding higher.
We've stopped using emails for Ad targeting entirely, and the enforcement is quite strict, as reported in June: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/technology/gmail-ads.html
I read this as confirmation that, if I were a Gmail customer, that you would indeed be using my personal emails to train your models.
For me, I then have to wonder what "highly anonymized" means in this context. Does this means that users' emails are put through yet another processing pipeline to separate emails into anonymous / not-anonymous buckets or to redact personally identifying information?
What do you mean by "highly anonymized"? What specific privacy notion are you using, and what is the (demonstrably unavoidable) tradeoff you are de facto threading between utility and privacy?
I can't enable smart compose. My general tab doesn't have "Enable experiments" at the bottom. Is this getting rolled out in phases?
I logged out and logged back in just in case, but no dice.
My email is in my profile if you need it. Thanks!
On the other hand, sussing out what is and is not fair game is quite a lot easier with a service such as Fastmail.
To put it bluntly, if anyone here is complaining and has an @gmail.com address, email me and I'll be happy to help you buy your own domain and create MX records to either gsuite or fastmail. But I just can't hear the empty negativity anymore from consumers who say "no! bad google!", yet, by using the free product, keep making their emails available for the AI models and keep signaling to Google that an advertising business model works better than a paid-per-user one.
It doesn't look bizarre, trust me. It looks extremely professional. Even on CVs, this alone will get you past some filters. And the domain name is $5-10 USD / year, it's nothing.
With @gmail.com, you have lock in. With @yourdomain.com, you don't.
Let me know if you have any tips for getting the most out of my new subscription!
Go to https://admin.google.com - there's a lot of cool stuff you can do there that isn't usually possible in a regular Gmail account, including for example recovering emails and drive files up to 3-4 weeks after they've been deleted.
In this particular case, I think people are (probably rightly) concerned about how the machine learning models here are used to suggest content. I would guess that most of the people who are unconcerned with the Android keyboard's privacy model either haven't thought too much about it, or have come to accept it in small increments.
The reason people are so upset is that it has a negative effect on the world even if people have the option to turn it off (and don't), and it has virtually no real benefit. It's the latest in the trend of tech companies trying to solve problems that don't exist, and creating new ones in the process.
At best, you'll never know if the person on the other end of the line outsourced their response to Google. At worst, people's mental capacity for expression and nuance will start to atrophy because they couldn't be bothered to manually relate to another human being.
I've ported my email address / domain across several hosting providers now. I don't have to retrain anyone.
Obviously this doesn't help you now, but maybe you can start training people on to your new firstname.lastname@example.org email address to avoid this problem in the hypothetical future when Fastmail becomes dystopian and gross.
I never liked Facebook; I never thought any of Facebook's cool features made up for their creepy business model. I do like Google and Google Mail because I pay for the service and the relationship is extremely different. But that's outside the point anyway. You're giving information to the company by simply using gmail (receiving and sending emails through gmail). Autocomplete is a feature that doesn't gather information (at best a yes/no)...
Seriously, wtf is dystopian about autocomplete? Do you write your code in nano or something?
And how much thought do you put into an email anyway? Outside of development ones, all my emails are extremely standard (the few times I even bother sending any). I won't use this for development emails. What is the problem?
Furthermore, if you're dyslexic, autocorrect is essentially assistive technology.
Now, do I need autocorrect when I'm texting my mom? No, I don't, but that doesn't mean I want to be turning it on/off every time I switch context. What harm does it do by staying on? Hide my true nature as a poor speller?
I'll let you in on a secret: My handwriting looks like shit. Digital text has allowed me, for the past two decades, to hide my true nature as a shitty handwriter.
If I get any impression someone is writing me messages with this feature, I'll filter them into my trash. I want to speak to people, not Google.
A large chunk of people on the internet, in fact.
You're speaking to robots right now.
This seems like an extreme overreaction and quite antisocial.
Just to be clear, I don't find these things reassuring, it just makes me think you don't care about communicating very much. Please accept that some people find machine-generated communication to be gross and don't want to be subjected to it, whether or not you understand.
Saying you don't want to be subjected to machine generated communication to me says that you don't want to read anything written in the past 10 or so years. Practically everything written in that time frame is in some way machine generated or edited.
Like I said, just because something is in part machine generated doesn't make it not thoughtful.
I can type "I" and then my phone's keyboard will suggest "be there at" as the phrase completion it does this a single word at a time, but in practice it does let me complete a phrase. If I don't want to say that, I'm capable of not using the autocomplete suggestions. There's no substantive difference with Smart Compose except that I don't have to confirm between every word, so its slightly more efficient.
I'm not sure what you think smart compose is doing, but "writing sentences for you" isn't it. So no, I think you're either misunderstanding what this is, or perhaps you're being disingenuous by describing it as something that writes sentences for you.
: Granted given the Duplex demo and other work in the NLP space, I expect that in certain contexts a tool that given an instruction like "set up a meeting with John this week" that schedules it over emails (like x.ai, which has been around for quite some time) is totally possible, but Smart Compose isn't it.
I think this is a dangerously stupid way to think about linguistics.
But for otherwise mechanical things ("hey can we set up a meeting tomorrow", "do you want to grab lunch at ____ today"), the form is mostly irrelevant. It's the kind of thing where if we weren't in a formal context, I'd write as "hey u wanna grab fud at ____ later". I'm not losing anything by having a tool formalize that to "Hey do you want to eat lunch at ____ today." Again, we already do that a lot. As far as I can tell, this is just doing that a bit faster.
Anyone ever read Roald Dahl's short story The Great Automatic Grammatizator ? 10/10 strongly recommend, about an engineer who develops a computer-like machine able to compose fiction.
Googling "the great automatic grammatizator pdf" gives a .doc version as the top result, for me anyway.
I don't see it as much scarier than tab-completion while programming or on a phone. As long as you're watching over it and fixing mistakes, it's just a convenience.
While I am programming I usually know what method I want, I might not know the exact name but I know what it does and when I see it I select it. There may be a rare case where I want to see what methods are available but that is just a convient way to read "documentation". However this is guiding your sentence as you write it. I suspect that most people would have different phrasing if using this feature then they otherwise would.
David and his team are initially thrilled when the project is allocated extra servers and programmers. But excitement turns to fear as the team realizes that they are being manipulated by an A.I. who is redirecting corporate funds, reassigning personnel and arming itself in pursuit of its own agenda."
"Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears" (3 part book series)
https://smile.amazon.com/Avogadro-Corp-Singularity-Closer-Ap... (Book one)
That is to say: we think at the level of words, not letter-by-letter. When I make a typo, autocorrect corrects what my hands do to match what my brain is thinking. My brain still has primacy. This thing sits at the level of words and even sentences: if it's autocorrect, it's working to correct what my brain is thinking. Which is creepy and sad.
It's a little bit more like predictive text I admit. But because predictive text only suggests one word at a time, there's little semantic meaning to a suggestion and it's rare that I have my thoughts distracted or changed because of it. It's still largely a convenience tool. Suggesting a full sentence is shaping the direction of your thought, which is very different.
I'm still horrified that Google has put this out.
Does anyone remember the old days of Google search maybe 10-15 years ago? You would put in a search query, and often you would find something interesting in a serendipitous manner.
These days the machine tries to figure out what you like, and what makes them the most money / is most popular and keeps feeding you that and nothing else.
You get trapped in a filter bubble, and nothing ever seems to change in your searches. The same sites, the same quality of content (often low), the same authors.
What ever happened to running into the blog of someone who is totally unknown, but put a lot of effort into researching and creating an amazing and informational blog post? Quality well above average, maybe it was their only post. One topic they spent years researching and distilling for the world to see.
This is what you will lose in your conversations, just like it has been lost in search.
How is this blog design by Google considered "good"? Between the dropdown from the top when you scroll and the stickied footer, about a 1/3 of the page is easily readable (shoved into about 500px).
I'm not a designer. But this stuff is bad. How is this greenlit at Google?
The really frustrating thing is it's for related articles and it's shown first thing on the page. How about giving me a god damn minute to read the article I clicked on before prompting me to read something else. Related articles are fine. But how about putting them at the bottom of the page? I guess this is an interface a team of geniuses creates when they optimize for engagement instead of content.
This is definitely an anti-pattern.
I'm writing to check in on [$$non-automatable follow-up action$$]. [Have you been able to take care of this yet? Let me know if I can be of assistance.]
[best regards / thanks]
For me, things like Gmail's one/two-sentence responses on mobile are _honestly_ a godsend. Things like Smart Compose are similarly incredibly valuable. I'm not trying to be the world's best orator, I'm just trying to bang off the dozens of emails I need to get taken care of each day as quickly as possible.
It's a new generation of Clippy! I'VE GOT THIS, THANKS!
― Mark Twain's Gmail
In the car analogy, as long as people get where they want to be, what is the issue?
The issue is agency -- like the God of the margins, our agency being relegated to margins at the very least raises some questions for me!
I would imagine that after you've been saying "close enough" for a while, the smart replies start to warp the way you phrase things mentally, instead of the other way around.
For most people email is a utility. The diversity of language in the middle chunk of the distribution isn't very high today and the biggest complaint most people have about email is how much time it takes. Most of our users aren't writing poetry, they are doing every day business transactions and we can help them be much more productive. Think how many times you've written "hope to hear from you soon", or some equivalent.
For the tails of the distribution Smart Compose is not helpful. We address this primarily with a triggering model, we aim to only show suggestions when we're quite confident that you're in the 'just getting things done' mode.
And if you're the type of person who always has a lot of personality in your emails, the feature probably isn't a great fit for you. Today it's opt-in, and there will always be a setting even if we turn it on by default.
I think there's also a second aspect. If I understand correctly, you're referring to the homogenisation of a single user's language (where 'Hope to hear from you soon' loses variation). I think the second aspect is homogenisation of language across many people. Did you look at tailoring the suggestions? In England there must be 30 ways to say goodbye, and this slang arguably is part of regional identity (although I don't know how much made it across to email).
If I type “Sure, the password is” will it auto suggest some passwords from other people’s previously sent emails?
It also supports DuckDuckGo, so for the privacy conscious it should work fine.
Unlike the complaint that Google's product shrinks the lexicon, Anycomplete actually expands your lexicon by allowing you to type words/phrases you have an idea of but don't know how to spell.
I'd love to know if there is a good work around or trick to have the compose window open up in a separate window.
PS: I’m loving the idea and let’s hope it can get tailored to ones individual needs
It feels disingenuous to optimize only your end of the conversation, but it could also be really helpful. Hopefully we find a more openly efficient means of communication soon.
It also seems to pick things that I would say - not sure if this is learned from my own mail, but if so then it is actually reinforcing my individuality in some way.
I think if something like that was implemented this could be a cool way to introduce people to new and different writing patterns.
At this point we might as well do away with the pre-structured responses and just send single a single emoji as a response. It'd get the same message across.
Almost made me feel there would be no point writing something similar myself.
Weird to roll out to free consumers first. What's the reasoning behind this?
These "intelligent" hints of what someone think I likely want to express - quickly becoming a distracting nuisance.
Hopefully it'll be optional feature.
In code, this sort of thing makes it easy to write programs that are skimmed, not read, with lots of tiny cracks for bugs to hide in.
>"You think this matters"... [Valerie the transhuman]
>"You think so, too," Moore [baseline human] began. "Or-"
>"-you wouldn't have reacted," he and Valerie finished in sync.
>He tried again: "Were they under formal con...," they chorused. He trailed off, an acknowledgement of futility. The [transhuman] even matched his ellipsis without missing a beat.
Sure he could abbreviate and autocomplete his way through a sentence... but then I’m not talking to my dad anymore; instead I’m talking to some k’th mean of human interaction.