Google Blocks ‘Offensive’ Gender Pronouns Including 'Him' and 'Her'
Search giant Google is removing prominent predictive text feature in the Gmail
Search giant Google is removing gender pronouns from its prominent predictive text feature in the Gmail platform because suggesting the wrong sex may cause offense in some users.
The feature will no longer designate specific gender such as 'he,' 'her,' 'him' or 'she' due to fears of offending users.
The risk is seen as 'too high' that Gmails 'Smart Compose' technology might incorrectly predict someone's sex or gender, according to Google staff.
Paul Lambert, Google Gmail product manager, revealed company research scientist found the predicament in January.
He keypunched 'I am meeting an investor next week,' and Smart Compose recommended a potential follow-up question: 'Do you want to meet him?' instead of 'her.'
Google is now being wary around such a delicate topic even though many users are accustomed to embarrassing gaffes from auto-correct.
Gender concerns are playing a significant role in society, with AI critics scrutinizing potential biases, Google is playing it safe.
'Not all 'screw-ups' are equal,' Mr. Lambert said.
Gender is 'a big, big thing' to get wrong, he added.
Currently, Gmail has 1.5 billion users - Mr. Lambert said Smart Compose assists on 11 percent of messages across the globe.
AI developers say that Smart Compose is an example of natural language generation (NLG), where computers learn to compose sentences by studying patterns in literature, emails, and web pages.
Mr. Lambert stated the Smart Compose team of around 15 engineers and designers proposed several workarounds, but none showed bias-free or helpful.
They then found the best resolution was to define coverage and implement a gendered pronoun ban.
It only affects below 1 percent of cases where Smart Compose would recommend something.
'The only reliable technique we have is to be conservative,' said Prabhakar Raghavan, who oversaw engineering of Gmail and other services until a recent promotion.
The Gender dilemma
Just recently, the official Healthline website, one of the most trafficked sites in the US, has announced the Term ‘Vagina’ Is no longer 'gender inclusive' and is now using the new term 'front hole.
'The health-related website global ranking by Alexa in the United States is 237.
The major shift in much-respected health journal was so they could be ' more inclusive to the LGBTQIA community.
'So, if you identify your self as a kettle, a teapot, or even an electric shaver you can use the term “front hole” and still feel included.