Autocomplete

My girlfriend and I use technology to augment our relationship.  When we spend long periods of time apart we write each other text messages and send photographs of ourselves to each other, often photographs of a sexual nature.  Late one night, she sent me such a photograph and I was certain, based on the quality of light in the photograph, that the picture had not been taken recently.  I pressed for details about when this picture had been taken and she eventually confirmed my suspicion that, yes, in fact, this was an old picture, taken before we had begun seeing each other.  I was hurt and made it clear to her that I expected the photographs of a sexual nature that she sent me to have been taken specifically and exclusively for me; after all, I would do the same for her.  She claimed—and I agreed with her—that it was a good photograph and she simply wanted me to see it.  After all, there was no guarantee that she would get that kind of light while also experiencing a very sexual mood while we were together, the future being largely out of our control.  I was still upset, but it was getting late and my girlfriend and I are adamant that we not go to bed angry and so I was willing to resolve this another day.  Before saying goodnight, I began typing her a text message.  All I want to do is kiss, and my phone suggested your neck.  I accepted this suggestion:  All I want to do is kiss your neck.  How was the software in my phone able to correctly guess where I wanted to kiss my girlfriend?  Of course the answer is that, embedded in my phone’s text messaging software, there is an implementation of a simple language model which keeps track of frequent sequences of words that I type. The software uses this language model to make suggestions as I type, thus further technologically augmenting my relationships.  In other words, my girlfriend was not the first person whose neck I’d wanted to kiss, as I’d typed this sequence of words many times before.  It is possible that future updates to my phone’s operating system will involve refinements of this algorithm, down-weighting the relevance of word sequences I typed long ago or maintaining language statistics conditioned on the recipient’s identity, thus giving my girlfriend a statistical tabula rasa.  It is impossible for me to say.  I explained this insight to my girlfriend and said that the photographs of a sexual nature were not so different. We are all like crabs gathering debris and sea-floor detritus in a frantic effort to construct a Self, she typed.  I started to type I couldn’t agree more, but after typing I my phone suggested the word sequence love you so much and I accepted this suggestion before telling my girlfriend goodnight, don’t let the blue light bite.

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