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Text-altering AI is changing our culture — try this tool to find out how

Most of us benefit every day from the fact computers can now “understand” us when we speak or write. Yet few of us have paused to consider the potentially damaging ways this same technology may be shaping our culture.

Human language is full of ambiguity and double meanings. For instance, consider the potential meaning of this phrase: “I went to project class”. Without context, it’s an ambiguous statement.

Computer scientists and linguists have spent decades trying to program computers to understand the nuances of human language. And in certain ways, computers are fast approaching humans’ ability to understand and generate text.

Through the very act of suggesting some words and not others, the predictive text and auto-complete features in our devices change the way we think. Through these subtle, everyday interactions, machine learning is influencing our culture. Are we ready for that?

I created an online interactive work for the Kyogle Writers Festival that lets you explore this technology in a harmless way.