Thesbians and Lesbians

March 5, 2019

I've ranted about autocorrect and spell checkers in the past. My favorite sentence is:

 

No Moore miss steaks.

 

A completely silly sentence that is correct, according to a spell checker. 

 

I first saw the famous sentence in proofreading school. Don't laugh, there is such a place and I went, two semesters as part of my professional editing certification from George Washington University (shameless credential plug.)

 

Spell checkers are important. Actually, I would argue essential tools. I was not the best proofreader in the class. That's another post. However, spell checkers are coded by people and are built on existing dictionaries and databases.

 

Imagine my surprise when my daughter asked how to spell "thesbian" because each typed attempt was autocorrected to lesbian. She was writing a review of a school play and hey, maybe the lead actor was a lesbian, but she was trying to find a synonym for actor.

 

In our gender fluid, open society, it's interesting that the database was coded (by a human) to jump to lesbian from thesbian. Surely the arts must be important. People write about them all the time. Seems thesbian isn't part of the Google Docs suite.

 

Recently, hiring algorithms have been called out for bias. Resumes have been inadvertently screened to find white men, especially in STEM roles. You can read more here from the Harvard Business Review.

 

Work is being done to correct these flaw and media attention does help too. But at the most basic, household, student level our thoughts and choices are being autocorrected. This is not big brother watching us. Just an observation of the power of technology in our lives the need for smarter machine learning algorithms. And of course, actors who can cook sirloin.

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Sharon J. Wishnow -
Entrepreneur, Speaker & Author
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© 2018 by Sharon J. Wishnow. All Rights Reserved

 

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