Just like predictive text, Google’s new feature reportedly suggests woke alternatives. Users that type “landlord” will be offered the alternative of “property owner,” along with an inclusion warning. The word “humankind” is said to be a suggested alternative to the apparent controversial term “mankind”.
Also on the hit-list are gender-specific terms such as “policemen” or “housewife,” with reported suggestions of “police officers” and “stay-at-home spouse”.
These are said to be included in the new Google Document style programme, and are turned on by default.
The Telegraph reports that it is now being rolled out to what the firm calls enterprise-level users.
But many are seeing it as a step too far.
Silkie Carlo, of campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Google’s new word warnings aren’t assistive, they’re deeply intrusive.
“This speech-policing is profoundly clumsy, creepy and wrong, often reinforcing bias.”
Sam Bowman, of online magazine Works in Progress, added: “It feels pretty hectoring and adds an unwanted political/cultural slant to what I’d rather was a neutral product [as] a user.”
Lazar Radic, a senior scholar in economic policy at the International Centre for Law and Economics, said the function was an example of “nudging” behaviour.
He believes that it “presumes to override the preferences of individuals on the assumption that the nudger knows better than the nudgee what is better for him or her – and, further, for society as a whole”.
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Mr Radic added: “Not only is this incredibly conceited and patronising – it can also serve to stifle individuality, self-expression, experimentation, and – from a purely utilitarian perspective – progress.
“What if ‘landlord’ is the better choice because it makes more sense, narratively, in a novel? What if ‘house owner’ sounds wooden and fails to invoke the same sense of poignancy?”
The new Google Docs programme which includes the “inclusive language” warnings function is currently being rolled out to what the firm calls enterprise-level users.
There are said to have been serious flaws during testing.
A transcribed interview with former Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, in which he reportedly uses racial slurs, prompted no warning.
But it suggested President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address should say “for all humankind,” instead of “for all mankind”.
Google said the feature was in an “ongoing evolution” designed to identify and “mitigate” unwanted word biases.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “Assisted writing uses language understanding models, which rely on millions of common phrases and sentences to automatically learn how people communicate.
“This also means they can reflect some human cognitive biases.
“Our technology is always improving, and we don’t yet (and may never) have a complete solution to identifying and mitigating all unwanted word associations and biases.”