Gboard’s AI-based phrase prediction can be tricky
Google’s keyboard app relies extensively on AI tools which require a new set of algorithms to be governed with
New Delhi: AI (Artificial Intelligence) has undoubtedly made apps and devices smarter, but it also slips up occasionally.
A few months ago, Amazon Echo recorded a conversation between a couple and sent it to another person without asking them. Now, a Gboard user came very close to sending a message referring to a sexual act to his children’s babysitter due to an oversight by Google in the keyboard’s phrase prediction feature.
When Cory Doctrow typed “Hey! Are you free to sit,” Gboard suggested “on my face.” Doctrow reported the incident on Twitter, claiming he had never entered a string on those lines on his keyboard or phone. Responding to US-based news portal Buzzfeed, a Google spokesperson acknowledged the error and said the company was working to fix it.
Google’s Gboard is one of the most popular keyboard apps on Android with 500 million downloads. Microsoft’s SwiftKey, which has been around for much longer, has been downloaded 100 million times on Android.
AI-based phrase suggestions were introduced in Gboard in June 2017. It works by guessing the next words for users based on their typing history or by matching the most appropriate phrases in the language in which the user has been typing. So if a user types, “What do you think”, the next phrase suggestion will be “about this” , making it easier for users to type and get on with the message or email faster than single-word suggestions.
In Doctrow’s case, Gboard matched the typed words with the most popular expression and came up with the suggestion. Google has blocked over 1,400 words from showing up in its text predictions, but when it comes to phrase suggestions, they need to come up with a new algorithm as a sentence can still be inappropriate without involving one of the words in the blocked list, as in Doctrow’s case.
Gboard provides users with the option to delete suggestions they don’t wish to see again. For this, users have to press and hold on the text they want to delete. A remove suggestion box will appear on the screen. User can drag and drop the prediction to the box to delete the text.
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