“Your mom and I are going to divorce next month.” Her father had meant to type “Disney” and quickly corrected his mistake. But poor Hannah was shaken. Another victim of autocorrect.
In a recent New York Times article, Ben Zimmer writes about the often humorous (embarrassing, socially devastating) results of autocorrect.
Wondering how autocorrect works? Or, in many cases, doesn’t work? Zimmer explains:
iPhones, Android phones and other smartphones learn from the patterns of individual users so that suggested replacements are tailored to the history of a given phone, with a focus on recent and frequently used words. Since every phone develops a unique textual footprint, automatic corrections can vary from one device to another.
So let’s play this out: Spend a lot of timing texting with other moms about the ongoing challenges of potty training your toddler? Watch out when you send a sympathetic text to your flu-addled friend. Autoc0rrect might just think you want to ask her about her feces, not her fever.
You can find more examples of autocorrect’s stunning incorrectness on a new website, Damn You Auto Correct! Not surprisingly, the site has become hugely popular.
What’s happening here? Seems like in engineering these phones to be so smart, we’ve actually engineered a bunch of devices with the social intelligence of, well, a potty-training two-year-old.
What to do? If you’re a victim of fat fingers — or simply a victim of your own phat need for speed — do a little human-correct before you hit SEND. That way, you’ll be sure you’re inviting your new boyfriend’s parents to “boardgame” night, not “bisexual” night.