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….