Microsoft has launched new software to suggest politically correct edits when someone is writing. The giant US technology company has included the new feature in its latest version of Word, the omnipresent word processing software. The program will apply artificial intelligence to recommend changes to your writing in a way that does not offend a particular gender or group. For example, mail man would be automatically corrected to “mail carrier”, chairman would be changed to “chairperson”, and selectmen would become “select board”.
A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) has already stuck its electronic nose in everything we do in our daily lives. It does our banking for us, it locks and unlocks our doors and it turns our appliances off and on. It answers our doorbells when we are not home by sending videos of who or what is on our doorstep. In the near future it will be doing our driving. Do we really need A.I. doing our writing for us as well?
A machine auto-correcting my writing to make it less offensive offends me. Artificial Intelligence, for now, is programmed by human beings. Someone somewhere is making a judgment call on what society finds offensive and the computer’s writing program will suggest a more politically correct alternative.
I learned a few scary facts while doing research on the internet for this article. There is a new form of A.I. on the horizon. It’s called A.G.I. (Artificial General Intelligence). The A.I. that exists in our world today is currently programmed to perform a simple task like checking the weather, playing chess, or analyzing reports to conform with someone’s standard of political correctness. The leap to A.G.I. will be a quick one when it happens. Machines encoded with Artificial General Intelligence will be able to reason, solve problems, make judgement calls, plan, learn, integrate prior knowledge in decision-making, and be innovative, imaginative and creative. Just like us only much, much better. These “machines” (if I can call them that without hurting their feelings) will be able to handle highly complex tasks like writing novels and performing surgeries. And you thought your current physician’s bedside manner was lacking.
What if I want to write something that’s not politically correct? Is that still an option in today’s world? Everyone is so afraid of stepping on toes these days. Comedians can’t make certain jokes without losing their careers. The Millennial generation takes “sensitive and fragile” to a whole new level. Can I say that without alienating my audience? Oh that’s right, Millennial’s don’t read newspapers anyway. I’m from the #WhoMe? generation. We got to have opinions that weren’t politically correct. Back in the day it was called freedom of speech. That was a long time ago. Times have changed. Last month Britain’s National Maritime Museum started to refer to ships with the pronoun “it”, after centuries of boats being called “she” or “her”. An outraged retired naval chief, Admiral Lord West, claimed it was an example of “political correctness gone mad”. I agree with the old fogey.
If a machine can write a newspaper column, can it be programmed to have a sense of humor? I hope not or I’m going to be the first human out of a job. Maybe I can find work as group leader of People Against The Robot Uprising. On a more serious note, my Word program’s politically correct auto-correct keeps changing my last line to “You will be assimilated.”