Predictive Text: What will I say next?

Aug 14, 2019–I’m the type of computer user who doesn’t require or want “assistance” from typical word processing software, thank you very much. A good example was that annoying paperclip thingie that used to pop up in Windows to ask if you needed help. First thing I did on every computer was turn him off, which they made unnecessarily difficult to do.

I only recently, grudgingly, gave in to spellcheck. The trouble with that obsessive martinet is sometimes I want to spell a word creatively, such as “gnite.” I have to navigate through three drop down menus to turn off the control where the software actively corrects a wrong spelling. Just this week I tried to type in the name “Juan Infante” and it kept changing the last name to “infant.” Don’t think Juan would appreciate being called a babe.

We also become too dependent on spellcheck, and assume it has proofed our work. Not true. Spellcheck does not catch it when you don’t use the write word in a sentence, as I just did. Yet I see no red underline!

Grammar check is even more intrusive. Grammar check is the 8th grade English teacher looking over your shoulder while you write an essay. Yes, the passive voice is used in this sentence. And sometimes it is a preposition that I end a sentence with. Underlining it in green only highlights your passive-aggressiveness, you over-achieving software programmer. You were probably the teacher’s pet back in 8th grade, too.

But the worst innovation of this alien life form that is Artificial Intelligence is the insidious “predictive text.” This is the feature where the phone anticipates the word you will type next, using context from previous words and the first few letters you are in the process of entering.

I hate it. And I hate that I don’t know how to turn it off.

First, if I want to use the word “sumpin,” I want to use the word sumpin. Often I’ll hit send before I see it has magically changed to “sump pump.”

So the textee reads, “That grub at your bash was really sump pump.”

At least that assures I won’t be invited back to their next bash.

The other quirk is that, as a serious writer, I jump through hoops to not use cliches or obvious phrases, like I just did in this sentence. The phone, not being as creative, brings up obvious words that are wrong. This was an actual text I sent to someone celebrating a birthday. There is no greeting more clichéd than a birthday greeting, so you have to work a bit harder to be unpredictable. Smart phones make even this modest task impossible. Smart phone, indeed.

The three auto choices are in brackets [] and the word I want to use is underlined:

“Happy [Birthday… holiday… New Year] Day [to… for… and…] of Birthing. This [is… was… will… ] should be a [good… great… very…] celebration for the [future… family… people] parents, since [they… the… it…] you could not [believe… try… go] have happened [to… with… before…] without [a… the… your] them.”

In a way, this reassures me that, yes, I do still write [a… about… this…] marginally better than a phone app.

I guess that’s sump pump.