If you thought all the new tech developments to make your life “smart” (like “smart homes” and “smart phones”) were really just Big-Brotherism trying to increasingly modify your behavior, Google has a new one for you.
Many are aware of the powerful search engine’s auto-complete feature, in which the user starts typing a desired phrase and Google offers suggested completions of the phrase. The tech giant built its search algorithms to be politically left leaning, research has shown. For example, during the 2016 presidential campaign, auto-complete offered only positive suggestions when beginning a search on “Hillary Clinton,” but no negative ones.
Now Google wants to bring the same feature to the documents you write. In your words. For yourself and your colleagues.
The company announced at its I/O Developer conference this week that users of its Google Docs program — in which collaborators can compose, edit, and share specific documents over the cloud computing network — will be prompted to “fix” their text if it happens to drift into political incorrectness. Think in terms of “gender neutrality” and “inclusivity.”
An update to the app means that Google Docs will start suggesting changing words like “mailman” to “mail carrier” and “chairman” to “chairperson,” it has been revealed.
Users will also be prompted to avoid using passive voice or what Google determines to be offensive language. It’s unclear from reports if the new feature will be opt-in or out, or hard-coded in the app, that is, impossible to avoid using.
This user-facing change comes after Google’s style guide for developers already seeking to “tidy up” language according to the sensitivities the giant is pandering to. For example, developers are instructed to replace “crazy” with “baffling,” “dummy variable” with “placeholder variable,” and “final sanity-check” with “final check for completeness and clarity.”
Just imagine all the auto-completes inserted in your company documents that you never intended and didn’t catch. Depending on the political orientation of your boss, you could get a pat on the back or find yourself under heightened scrutiny.
You might want to spend some extra person-hours reviewing your work before you turn it in.