The mad programmers at Google Labs
have come up with another bizarre (and possibly sinister) new Web application called Google Scribe
. Like Google's auto-suggested search terms that appear as you type, Scribe looks at the language you've used to determine the most likely word to follow. For example, if you type "Google Scribe" into its text field, the app will suggest "is a software" to follow that initial phrase.
But we also find it interesting that Google is attempting to reduce language to a set of cliches or frequently used phraseology. You can turn off the suggestions (though we're not sure why would would), which pop up in a box as you type and include the ten words or phrases that Google thinks you're most likely to use next. Interestingly enough, Scribe gets it right often, especially with simple phrases like if/then constructions. Creepy.
Scribe sometimes gets it wrong, though. We came up with a couple of paragraphs:
We re-typed that original into Scribe, starting with only the first two letters of each word in our sample text. Google spat out some kind of stream-of-consciousness prose poetry instead:
Scribe wasn't able to foretell word-for-word what we were about to say, although certain phrases like "for example" were easy enough for the program to determine. Depending on your reading of Google's version, however, you could see that it adequately prefigured some of our sentiment. The e.e. cummings-like phrase "see as, contrary to, machine is so frustrating redirects to questionable as a last" reflects our ambivalence toward the Scribe project. And, if we allow artificial intelligence programs to handle language for us, our "more abstract style options would change." So maybe Scribe doesn't work perfectly, but it still seems to know what we're thinking.