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Chris James

Technology is not ready to...

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take over the world. Machines don't speak our language very well, or at least some of it:

http://digitallife.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/29/10542387-gunna-to-gunman-auto-correct-prompts-school-lockdown?ocid=todmsnbc11

In most circumstances like this I think it would be better for the software involved in making auto-corrections just to reject the word. What happened to the old phrase: "Does not compute?" I think they better revive that instead of playing a guessing game.

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What strikes me is how very little it takes to precipitate a very dangerous situation: police with weapons drawn, all looking for someone suspicious to shoot at. Maybe a kid with an odd looking object in his hand. Remember the guy with the umbrella in the mall? If the cops had found him, would they have stopped to ask questions?

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As leaders have been finding out for centuries, fear is an effective tool for getting a population to sit down and shut up, and let you do what you want. Unfortunately, yes, itchy trigger fingers at the slightest provocation is one of the many unfortunate side-effects of this policy. I just don't understand why these same leaders don't read the next chapter in their history books to find out which one of the two inevitable outcomes a country is headed towards when it falls into this trap. Sigh.

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I just don't understand why these same leaders don't read the next chapter in their history books to find out which one of the two inevitable outcomes a country is headed towards when it falls into this trap. Sigh.

Perhaps the answer is in the old saw, those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

C

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I blame the stupid kid for letting auto-correct rule his life. But in fairness to him (or her), the auto-correct on the iPhone can be extraordinarily frustrating. I know a guy who can't type in his own name without the thing auto-correcting it to the wrong name.

For this reason, I turn off all auto-correcting and auto-spell-checking features on my computers. If I make a mistake, sure -- tell me about it. But let me judge whether or not I correct it, by hand.

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Auto-correct can do some very unexpected things, whatever OS or program, browser or device it is on.

I am very thankful I didn't send one email too quickly, even though it was a friend/relative. The auto-correct on my iPhone turned it into something...spectacularly not like me and equally spectacularly off-color. (It was long enough ago, I wish I could remember exactly what it was. Funny and inappropriately dirty at the same time.

Once in a while, I have to watch to make sure I don't mistype "public." Typing "pulbic" isn't so bad, but if you forget the L in a hurry....

On the larger issue -- Clamping down on innocent citizens only works up to a certain point. That point is generally when some idiot gets too excited and says or does something, and suddenly a staring contest turns into gunfire or riots or some other violence. Note it can be some idiot in the crowd or in the guards or any other of many sides. It only takes a sudden noise or the wrong words or the sun in someone's eyes, or an itchy trigger finger or fatigue, and suddently there is something no one wanted. Then it's anybody's guess whether the authorities or the crowd or bystanders make it worse or regain their senses and back down from making things worse on a larger scale.

I was a kid or not even born when the Kent State incident happened. But of course, I've heard "Ohio" and seen the videos in history class and later.

We are not to the point where things are that desperately out of control and scary. But we are way too near it for my liking, and more so than I've seen it.

Some of the rhetoric getting thrown around by current or recent political candidates, making people irate? Some of the current events, actions by big businesses or various authorities? Some actions by individual nutjobs? The bad economy, still bad and very shaky, despite a few positive signs? The very divisive, "us versus them, no compromise, no middle ground, the other guy's all wrong, and maybe even evil" rhetoric all too common lately? -- All these are not conducive to peace, to trust and personal or group freedom. It's too close to the brink.

The best sign I see? Probably that people are all talking about things. They want things to get better. They don't like what's going on in their lives. They don't want to see things get worse or get out of control and reason. That people are concerned and want better solutions than what's there, I think are good signs. -- If people didn't care, if they'd given up, or if they were so mad all they wanted to do was fight, that would be bad.

I hope things will make real improvements instead of slipping further down that slippery slope of brinkmanship and increasingly tight and paranoid or ridiculous controls by various groups (businesses, authorities, whoever and whatever).

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Oh, and yes, I turned off auto-correct on my iPhone and iPad soon after I first got either one.

I don't let it auto-correct when in my word processor either. It gets confused enough with English, let alone if I use other languages, or write in dialect or make up a science fiction / fantasy word.

Auto-correct? Bah, humbug.

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Personally, I am not ready to give up my intelligence to one that is artificial. I didn't spend all those years in school learning language skills just to abdicate my responsibility to some automated, and often flawed, tool of the computer age.

I have not turned off the auto-correct features on my word processing program because I love to argue with it. Invariably it doesn't like my attempts at localized speech for a character in, say, the American south, and it hates slang.

I find the poor thing, and yes, I do think of it as some creature in the machine, is slowly beginning to understand my displeasure. I will teach it to spell if it kills me.

There are times when I have to laugh when the software wants to make an absurd substitute for a perfectly good English word. Type in "bosun's mate" and it wants to make it boson. It doesn't like words nautical but when I am writing about sailing it better listen to me because I have a large Webster's volume here on the desk and I can whack some sense into the machine.

There is no substitute for reading to broaden the knowledge of language. I suppose that kids today only read what is required from books and text the rest. I do feel a sense of empathy for those poor English teachers who must read, in bad handwriting, the results of grade school students writing assignments. I have seen examples of such documents, complete with little smiley face punctuation and LOL at the end of a sentence.

But since we have become a society of distant electronic communication I suppose we must provide a laugh track to our words so that others will understand our emotion. Texting has replaced inter-personal communication through speech for the youngest among us. Unless you are over thirty, and then it seems that generation is glued to the cell phone talking incessantly. Or perhaps the oldsters like me spend too much time tossing out thoughts on forums. I ought to be out playing tag in the sunshine.

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If Windows 8 is any indication of the future we will soon be communicating in icons and images...just like the cavemen did on the walls of the cave.

I can't wait to see the stick figure porn sites when that happens. Oh, wait a minute, now I understand when I hear old people say that computers are going to f**k up everything.

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