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    • So I stumbled across this fascinating and slightly hilarious article on the history of autocorrect which got me thinking about it's impact and influence in my life.

      Rather than MS Word, my first brush with autocorrect was on my first Android phone. (Can the T9 predictive text input on the earliest Nokia feature phones be considered as a precursor to this technology?)

      I still see a lot of people around me still stick to SMS lingo where they type msgs lik dis. I was guilty of sticking to sms lingo for a long time as well, with the earliest blog posts on my personal blog wholly written in that form. (I still haven't purged those posts as a reminder to myself of how cringe inducing I was at that time). Sometimes I stumble across some words which my brain forgets how to spell and I have to depend on autocorrect to suggest the correct spelling. I often pause to consider if I am forgetting to spell words since I am becoming more dependent on my keyboard to complete the word for me.

      I wonder what the scenario will be 5-10 years down the line when tools like Smart Compose from Google become the norm. Will our grammar and vocabulary get even worse as we let AI complete our sentences..?

    • I recently stopped using Gmail on the web, but when Smart Compose was available, I immediately couldn't handle it. It actually felt slower typing a sentence. You can even see that in the example, it's exactly how it was for me. You start typing and wait a second to read what it suggested and then press tab. Just threw off my whole concentration of thinking of what i'm typing and trying to say. I also have always had issues with swipe keyboards on smart phones. In the end I always go back. Maybe I'm just old. ;-)

    • I'm a notoriously bad texter, and autocorrect often exacerbates the problem, so this is such a fun article to read!

      With these sorts of master lists in place—the corrections, the
      exceptions, and the to-be-primly-ignored—the joists of autocorrect, then
      still a subdomain of spell-check, were in place for the early releases
      of Word. Microsoft's dominance at the time ensured that autocorrect
      became globally ubiquitous, along with some of its idiosyncrasies. By
      the early 2000s, European bureaucrats would begin to notice what came to
      be called the Cupertino effect, whereby the word cooperation (bizarrely included only in hyphenated form in the standard Word dictionary) would be marked wrong, with a suggested change to Cupertino.
      There are thus many instances where one parliamentary back-bencher or
      another longs for increased Cupertino between nations. Since then,
      linguists have adopted the word cupertino as a term of art for such trapdoors that have been assimilated into the language...
      Autocorrect has become an index of the most popular way to spell and order certain words.

    • I hardly send any mails via Gmail anymore since we use Outlook in the office. Although the few times I have used my personal Gmail account, Smart Compose hasn't kicked in for me yet. Not sure if I need to turn it on or if it is still being rolled out.

      But what you mention about Smart Compose actually slowing you down is pretty interesting. I assume it varies from person to person. Come to think of it, this will be more useful for people in countries where English is not their first language. Not sure if Google ever thought of marketing it that way. 🤔

    • The book Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda contains a fascinating and entertaining account of the invention of autocorrect at Apple during the development of the iPhone.

      The author was in charge of developing the iPhone's onscreen keyboard (a revolutionary idea at the time) and went through many, many prototype iterations before finally arriving at the autocorrect-based approach we're all familiar with today. It's a really great read!

    • Will our grammar and vocabulary get even worse as we let AI complete our sentences..?

      I feel like my grammar and vocabulary are fine, but my spelling has taken a hit with my reliance on software. Some words I can never spell correctly the first time, like occassionally, neccesary, sometimes even anniverssary 🤣🤣🤣

    • Smart Compose is a godsend for me. I write a lot of business emails using Gmail, the ones where you have to be perhaps unnecessarily polite. I find myself writing the same things over and over again. You may wonder why I don't use something like tex texpander and the answer is that I do but it's not suited for those kind of short phrases that simply add politeness to a message (at least not in my opinion.) When smart compose suggests a phrase, I do of course need a few milliseconds to decide if I should press tab or skip. But that doesn't slow me down at all because it saves many seconds and it only sets me back a few milliseconds. But the most important thing for me is that I don't feel like a robot typing the same things over and over again, I feel like it's helping me protect my sanity at work.

    • Thanks for weighing in! I never considered how useful it might be in a business setting. You're absolutely right that it would save a lot of time (and sanity) when you have to write standard responses. Responding to emails can sometimes be a mind numbing exercise in addition to breaking your flow of work.

      I just had a light-bulb moment reading your response (which I realize might have been pretty obvious to others). Google often tests out these features in it's public facing products. And for the low price of free, they don't have to take a lot of effort to market it much and push people to adopt it. Thus, they have a ridiculously wide pool of testers to help them refine a feature before they can finally introduce it into their paid products like G Suite.

      I always used to read comments on Android blogs where people used to (maybe not all of them) jokingly mention that Google Nexus device owners were the beta testers for the Android OS and Google's hardware. I never thought that it might be the same for a lot of their other products and services as well.

    • Welcome to Cake, @anna0X 🙂

      Over time, I seem to have adapted to Smart Compose in the same way you have. I dunno if polite is quite the word for me, although that's part of it. I am looking for fun & upbeat replies to email and I'm surprised at how often the suggestions are close enough that I can just hit the tab key.

      I was very worried about coming off as canned & corporate but the suggestions are surprisingly good. Does anyone know if it learns from your writing style to make its suggestions?

    • Does anyone know if it learns from your writing style to make its suggestions?

      It doesn't look like it--it keeps suggesting phrases with exclamation points, which I dislike and never use. I was prepared to hate it at once and turn it off, but I decided to try it for a while. I haven't quite decided whether it's saving me any time or not, but at least I have learned to dismiss it quickly when I care to. I can see how I would have liked it for routine business email.

    • Thanks Chris! :) Yes, it absolutely learns from you. It actually suggests your previous responses so it does sound like something you wrote, and not an automatically generated response. And it technically is something that you've written before 😉

    • When I think about how much computing it must require to learn every person's writing style and offer suggestions in real time, my mind is completely blown. 🤯 It's like what they do with mapping directions and keeping current traffic conditions on so many of the world's roads.

      It looks like some people are noticing that the suggestions it makes are creepy good:

    • If there's one company that can afford the resources required to pull this off, it's obviously Google so I'm not at all surprised 😆 It's not freaking me out either, it's like typing suggestions from keyboards like SwiftKey: it remembers what you type and suggests a word you often type after the one already typed. Google just does the same but with whole sentences and language processing must also be involved. The tech is there, and they are putting it to use.