Fearful of bias, Google blocks gender-based pronouns from new AI tool

Google blocks gender-based pronouns

In May 2018, Alphabet Inc’s Google just came up with this really clever highlight that helps you to finish sentences automatically. All you have to do is write out half the sentence and it will suggest you with words or phrases that can complete the sentence. For instance, you type “I love/like” and Gmail would guess “you”, “them” or “it”.

However, it won’t suggest “him”/”her”. It’s because these are gender-based pronouns and foretelling people’s sexual identity may insult them.

Gmail’s product manager, Paul Lambert, mentioned that this problem was faced by a researcher. He typed “I’m meeting an investor next week”. And Smart Compose proposed a question “Do you want to meet him?” rather than “her”.

Literally, every smartphone user must have experienced autocorrect blunders. But since gender and sexual identification has become a massive issue these days, Google doesn’t want to slip and fall into the hands of critics.

Improvements in Smart Compose will benefit the business. Google will be able to claim that it knows the implications of AI and this will provide a competitive edge. It hopes to create a brand image to increase its consumer base.

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Smart Compose fits the definition of natural language generation (NLG) where computers learn sentence formation through the patterns and links between words. Computers can become experts at completing common sentences but the problem occurs at the specifications. Therefore, the engineers at the Smart Compose team have decided to put a ban on gender-based pronouns after several tests.

After multiple awkward situations where Google had to apologize, it has banished swearwords and racial blots along with woeful incidents from its prognostic technologies.

New Policy

The firm’s new strategy has affected the responses in Google Smart Reply. Smart Compose will shortly be available for four other languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French.

This immense challenge faces not only Google but many other companies. Even the translators in different websites need to consider that “he”, “him”, or “man” should not be the only pronouns that pop up whenever someone writes a phrase that needs completion.

John Hegela, an integration engineer at Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights Inc, says that the ultimate objective is to create a system that automatically knows what to write.

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