Not So Smart

I got a text from a friend this morning, asking if it would be a good time for her to call me.  It was, so I replied, “of course.”  Or at least that was what I intended to reply, so you can imagine my surprise when I checked my answer a bit later and saw that what I had actually replied was, “M. Por ya.” Obviously, auto-correct had struck again, and I can only imagine how much it confused my poor friend.

I had been walking my dog at the time I received the text, so it’s possible that I hit one or two wrong letters when I replied to it.  But there is no language in this universe in which “M. Por ya” makes any sense, so why in the world would auto-correct make that my response?  And “of course” is a common phrase in the English language, so why couldn’t auto-correct recognize it, even if I did miss a letter or two when I typed it?  Auto-correct is supposed to be a part of the new smart technology, but I have my doubts about that.

In fact, I have my doubts about a whole lot of things that are lumped into the “smart technology” category.  My car, for instance, is programed to beep at me relentlessly until all of the passengers are wearing seat belts.  It’s a safety issue and it makes sense….most of the time.  But my car also beeps at me if I put a heavy bag of groceries on the front seat, and it beeps at me when my dog is riding the in front seat too.  The seat belt in question is designed for humans, not groceries or dogs, but I have to insert the buckle in the slot anyway just to get the car to quit beeping at me.  The fact that the seat belt isn’t actually restraining anything is apparently beyond my car’s comprehension.  (And this is the same car that slammed on the emergency brakes when a leafy twig blew across the street in front of it.)  Smart?  I think not.

I’ve known for a long time that my computer is tracking all my online activity and sharing it with all and sundry, and I guess the fact that I can’t get it to stop means it’s at least smarter than me.  (Who isn’t?)  But since it knows what sites I visit, don’t you think it would also know what I’m doing on that site?   So when I browse hotels for an upcoming trip, wouldn’t it also know when I’ve already  booked a room?  Apparently not, because I’ll get adds for hotels in the area I plan to visit for weeks afterwards.

I think it’s time that we stopped assuming that all technology is smart, and wait until a particular device or program has actually earned the title.  That’s the way it works with people.   We don’t just assume a person is smart until they’ve found a way to prove it.  So maybe what we need to do is start classifying our technology a little more accurately.  There can be categories for smart, above-average, average, below average and just plain “dumb as a box of rocks.”  It may not be nice, but at least it would be accurate and we’d know what to expect from our devices.  And I’d feel a little less annoyed the next time auto-correct garbles one of my texts, because I’d know it was just doing the best it could….

74 thoughts on “Not So Smart

  1. I saw a remark about auto correct recently…apparently you have to imagine it as a tiny elf which is terribly keen to help but is also very drunk. Sounds quite a good explanation to me, looking at that of which auto correct is capable.
    The propensity to spread information over all the household devices and programmes is helpful in one way….I only have to look at the adverts alongside the Yahoo mailpage to see what my husband is thinking of buying…

    Liked by 5 people

    • I love that image! And I think it is so true. Sometimes I’ll type a whole word in, like “neighborhood” and leave out one single letter….and auto-correct is stumped. Other times, it will assume it knows exactly what I mean and come up with something like “M. Por ya!” The booze would explain a lot….LOL! And you’re right, those online ads can also alert us to what our other half is looking into buying. That could be rather useful, now that I think about it. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhhh, Auto Correct. I once replied by text to my boss that my phone was low on batter and I had to Shut it Off, except, it auto corrected by putting an i in place of the u on Shut. I never lived that down, up until the day I retired. Technology is a great tool, when it works and if we use it instead of it using us. It tends to make us a bit dumber, with no need to remember names or phone numbers, no need for maps and no worries about getting lost. Great post Ann. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

    • I bet you didn’t live that one down! Auto-correct gets us all, one way or another, doesn’t it? And I agree about our dependence on technology making us dumber. We don’t have to read maps, remember anything, or even know how to do research any more. Yes, life is more convenient in many ways, but I honestly believe our minds are like our bodies: we need to use them or they become very weak. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ann, I’m so glad I’m not the only one whose so-called “smartphone” suggests words which aren’t even English
    Love the Idea of grading our tech according to how smart it really is!

    Wonder what Steve Jobs would make it the idea?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good question, and I suppose it might have depended on Steve Job’s honesty! But it is funny how we use the word “smart” when what we so often really mean is “automated.” And as we all know, automated isn’t always right. Thanks for the comment!

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    • Exactly! Technology has no feelings, so we don’t need to worry about finding labels that aren’t insulting. Although a friend who read this post suggested categories like: helpful, slightly helpful, annoying, and throw it away! I like those categories too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, there are tech devices that are just wonderful! I’m just saying they aren’t all smart, and maybe it’s time we acknowledged that. Too often, we used the word “smart” when what we really mean is simply “automated.” And there’s a difference, I believe. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you on this, Ann. I’ve learned to double check my texts or messages before sending them, but sometimes I get in a hurry and still send mistakes. I just texted my family as we teased about google and I said that someone else looks up our answers to questions and “shoes” that we’re dumb instead of “shows” that we’re dumb. So I looked dumb. HaHaHa!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ann, I believe there are actual books written about all the funny auto-correct mistakes people have encountered.
    I’m always kicking myself when I see one after the fact. I have to check everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I so agree! Auto-correct is stupid most of the time and the rest of the time it is evil! My phone has that feature where you just squiggle your finger on the keyboard and it interprets it into words – worst thing ever! Anyway my husband was looking at cruises and now I’ve cruise info in my news feed, in the ads, and even spam calls telling me I could win a cruise!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, and a friend of mine said the creepiest thing is when she’s talking about something on her phone, then goes online and sees ads about what she was talking about. My guess is that is Siri, listening and reporting….. Nothing is private these days, and that’s not a good thing!

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  7. I have often reminded myself to disable the autocorrect on my devices and yet haven’t done that. What annoys me deeply is the unsolicited grammatical supervision it carries on my behalf at times, apart from the bizarre quirks such as you have experienced. But I am sure the forces laziness are increasing getting hold of my better senses, which is the only explanation I have for not stopping autocorrect in its tracks till now. Monitoring and mining web traffic is as evil as it can get and it’s consequences are out there for everyone to see. As a matter of fact, I have had people reporting to me how they had started getting advertisements on certain products based on mere telephonic discussions: how creepy is that? Again, technology is getting used recklessly to supposedly ease out mundane tasks, such as monitoring visitors in gated communities. I am sure it is a double edged sword and it can be misused in most devious manners. I am sure it is time we put our feet down on half baked intelligence being propagated by coded chips and programmes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, a friend was just telling me that happens to her too…when she talks about something on her phone, she then gets online ads about it, meaning that now our verbal conversations are also being monitored. I have no idea how to disconnect Siri on my phone (which I suspect is the cause) or auto-correct, but I need to figure it out. As you say, the potential for abuse is huge and real. It’s amazing how much of our privacy we give up in the name of convenience and safety, isn’t it? I can’t help but think we’re going to regret that some day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that would make more sense! I had a friend suggest that we label technology by the terms helpful, somewhat helpful, not helpful, annoying, and get rid of it! I think that is a very accurate system, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It terrifies me when my smart Honda Pilot starts making weird noises, makes the steering wheel vibrate and flashes BRAKE on the screen. This happens when a car from the opposite lane appears to be in collision in a curve with my vehicle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the car’s reaction can scare us into a very unsafe reaction, I think. Some of the safety features that are built into new cars are anything but safe in real practice. Thanks for the comment, Peter!

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    • I’ve had that happen too! It’s as if it is insisting that it’s word, or spelling of the word, is better. But often, I am typing exactly what I mean. And sometimes I’m using lingo that the recipient of my text would understand, even if auto-correct doesn’t.

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  9. What I really find intrusive is after shopping in a store that I have never given my email to, they send me an email asking how my experience was. As for autocorrecting, my daughter was having trouble at an airport and our text came through as “You are an idiot.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ouch! Thank goodness that came through to a family member…just think of having to explain that text to a boss or coworker. And yes, why do stores automatically have our email address??? We should be the ones in charge of giving out our contact information.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I so agree, Ann, – this so-called smart tech can be so annoying. It thinks it’s so smart that it can take over my life and direct my every move. My husband always says that this smart technology makes us dumb and lazy and I’m inclined to agree. So, while there are some ways in which it can be helpful, we try keep it to a minimum in our lives. Of course, it means that people often think we’re from the caves for opting to do a lot of things manually and in person. Still, I believe there might come a day when everything could break down and only those who’ve kept to the old ways mostly will stand a better chance of survival because we haven’t given up all abilities to do things to a technology that claims to be smart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with you and your husband! We are relying on technology to do far too much for us, including think. (Which explains a whole lot about the political situations in our world!) Our minds were made to be used, just like our bodies, and the less we think, the less we’re capable of learning.
      The other point you make is also so true. What happens when the technology we depend on stops working? For example, last light I went to an event that was a fund raiser for the animal shelter where I volunteer. In the past, you could buy raffle tickets, bid on items, etc., either by cash, check or charge. This year, you had to do it online only, via your phone. Only the app wouldn’t upload to my phone. So I couldn’t donate any money to the cause, which goes against the whole point of the evening! Luckily, I was there with a friend who bought things for me, and I paid her back….with a check!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ann, this is so very true! My Alexa device routinely “pretends” not to understand me. Yes, I have a Southern accent, but good grief, that shouldn’t throw her off. And that seat belt beeping drives me nuts! Monkey refuses to ride in the back seat (I think he must get carsick because he throws up), so, against better judgment, he sits up front. And his poundage regularly sets the beeper off. Sigh. Definitely not the sharpest tool in the shed, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, considering millions of Americans speak with at least somewhat of a Southern accent, Alexa should be able to recognize it. And I have the same problem with Finn. I have a doggie harness for him, but it only works in the back seat, and my back seat is taken up with baby and child car seats at the moment. So Finn rides up front, and my car is too stupid to differentiate between a canine “booty” and a human one!

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  12. My ‘smart’ car turns off the airbag if I sit on a cushion (passenger side). I’m short, and even with the seats fully raised, I like to sit on a cushion. There is no way to change the setting…

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  13. Yes, I vote that we adopt your scale for classifying our technology. It’s brilliant and would make sense. Especially when it comes to our clothes dryer that is noisy and “dumb as a box of rocks.” Lordy…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your dryer must be a close relative of mine! It’s supposed to sense when things are dry. But most often, it will shut off when the clothes are still quite damp, or keep on drying once they are completely dry. There’s no rhyme nor reason to it at all!

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I agree with you about smart technology, Ann. I always double-check my messages for autocorrected mistakes – except that the autocorrect isn’t always as correct as it thinks. I now have a programme on my laptop called Grammarly. It’s beneficial in most instances (cheating, perhaps), but it will insist on suggesting alternative words which don’t seem to have anything to do with what I want to write. It’s too smart for its own good, in my opinion. Most worrying to me is my son Tom’s smart car. It has an automatic drive. While he’s cruising down the motorway, going much too fast, he can take his hands off the wheel and let the car do the driving!! Would I trust it? No way. It’s terrifying to be in the car with him at those times. I love your idea of classifying our smart devices. I’d class Tom’s car as ‘dumb as a box of rocks.’ He disagrees with me. Surprise, surprise! X

    Liked by 2 people

    • I seen Grammarly advertised, but haven’t actually tried it. (And as an amusing aside, the auto-correct on my computer doesn’t think it’s spell correctly!) And I’m with you on self-driving cars…what happens when they malfunction? And the one thing we know about technology is that it always malfunctions at some time. Young people rarely question it, but this old lady certainly does! And she’s keeping her hands firmly on the wheel…..LOL!

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    • Well, I think there is some truth in that. If your job is to invent new things for the technology company you work for, then you’re going to be sure to invent new things (lest you be fired). So many things that are being invented aren’t really needed, by anyone other than the people inventing them and the companies that are selling them. Sadly, too many people are willing to accept the idea that if it’s the latest technology, then it must be good…no questions asked. (And thank goodness you sent that text to your sister-in-law! LOL!)

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  15. Oh my goodness…so true. Technology, can’t live with it, can’t live without it. GPS is a lifesaver for me, but there are other annoying or dangerous uses. I saw a news story about a car that was pulled over because it did not have its lights on, It was a self driving car with no driver!! While the officer was trying to determine more information, the car just took off!! Here is a link for the story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbKUWV7dedQ

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    • That’s just crazy! But I bet we’ll be seeing more things like that in the future. And we can only hope that “runaway car” doesn’t cause any accidents. I just wish we could think a little more about actual usefulness when we’re designing new tech, you know? Some of it is invaluable, and some of it is just annoying and unnecessary. And a little bit of it is downright dangerous!

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  16. I agree, autocorrect can be so annoying. And since your grammar and spelling is always perfect, it must be especially irritating! Plus, I feel like Alexa is listening to and judging my shower singing…

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    • LOL! I hadn’t even thought of that…being rated on our shower singing! And thanks for the comment, but trust me, I make plenty of mistakes in my typing and grammar. I just wish autocorrect made it better, not worse!

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  17. Honestly, I have a new car with more bells and whistles on it. It’s got the screen on the panel control area of the dashboard where I can call up navigation and her voice for directions. The other day, after I had already made a trip where I needed her directive vocals to guide me, I was headed in another direction…on purpose! Well, I couldn’t disconnect her from the speakers while driving in traffic. So, she squawked at me the entire time as I was disobeying her suggestive route. Any moment I expected to hear, “(sigh), Uh, sir! Are you deaf?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s funny now, but I’m sure it was frustrating at the time! And once again, how smart is a car when it can’t figure out you’re going in the direction you want to go? We were on vacation in California once when the GPS was telling us to go south, but a quick look at the map clearly showed that the winery we were trying to get to was north. Finally, we just turned off the GPS and used a good, old fashioned map to show us the way….and we got to our destination in good time!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. LOL My phone does the same thing every time I type only…instead it’s like O my, and I wonder why, if after all this time, it doesn’t predict that I’m saying only. I never want to say O my. Likewise, I never mean to text shot…ever lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! Wouldn’t you think that, after a while, your phone would recognize the phrases and words you use most often? I mean, if it can listen in on our conversations enough to recognize key word and share them with retailers (and God knows who else) surely it could figure out how to auto-spell the words we say most often? Once again, apparently not to smart….LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

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