This humorous NYT article discusses the foibles of auto-correct on computers and phones. Auto-correct, a more advanced type of the old spell checker, is a type of automation. We’ve discussed automation many times on this blog.
But auto-correct is unique in that it’s probably one of the most frequent touchpoints between humans and automation.
The article nicely covers, in lay language, many of the concepts of automation:
Out of the loop syndrome:
Who’s the boss of our fingers? Cyberspace is awash with outrage. Even if hardly anyone knows exactly how it works or where it is, Autocorrect is felt to be haunting our cellphones or watching from the cloud.
We are collectively peeved. People blast Autocorrect for mangling their intentions. And they blast Autocorrect for failing to un-mangle them.
I try to type “geocentric” and discover that I have typed “egocentric”; is Autocorrect making a sort of cosmic joke? I want to address my tweeps (a made-up word, admittedly, but that’s what people do). No: I get “twerps.” Some pairings seem far apart in the lexicographical space. “Cuticles” becomes “citified.” “Catalogues” turns to “fatalities” and “Iditarod” to “radiator.” What is the logic?
One more thing to worry about: the better Autocorrect gets, the more we will come to rely on it. It’s happening already. People who yesterday unlearned arithmetic will soon forget how to spell. One by one we are outsourcing our mental functions to the global prosthetic brain.
Humorously, even anthropomorphism of automation (attributing human-like characteristics to it, even unintentially)! (my research area):
Peter Sagal, the host of NPR’s “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!” complains via Twitter: “Autocorrect changed ‘Fritos’ to ‘frites.’ Autocorrect is effete. Pass it on.”
(photo credit el frijole @flickr)