Google is rolling out a new feature that asks authors to avoid using certain words because they aren’t broad enough
Google is introducing a new “inclusive language feature” designed to avoid using politically incorrect words.
The tool will be part of Google Docs and will show warnings to authors to avoid certain words and phrases that “may not be appropriate for all readers”.
Authors are encouraged to use another word from a list of more acceptable substitutions instead.
Which words does Google turn away from?
Among the words that Google rejects is “landlord” because Google considers this not inclusive for everyone. It suggests changing the word to “proprietor” or “proprietor” instead.
Other more gender-fair alternatives include changing “humanity” to “humanity,” “cop” to “police officer,” and “housewife” to “stay-at-home spouse.”
The tool also challenges the technical term “motherboard,” which refers to a printed circuit board that contains the main components of a computer or other device.
When an author uses any of these and other terms, a message appears stating, “Warning included. Some of these words may not be inclusive to all readers. Consider using other words.”
While many computer document systems employ spelling and grammar correction tools, requiring users to use certain words and phrases has been criticized as “deeply intrusive” and a restriction on free speech.
Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, narrates The Telegraph: “Google’s new word alerts aren’t helpful, they’re deeply intrusive.
“With Google’s new typing utility, the company not only reads every word you type, but also tells you what to type.
“This voice surveillance is deeply clumsy, creepy and false, and often reinforces prejudice. Invasive technologies like this undermine privacy, freedom of expression and, increasingly, freedom of thought.”
Google previously provided a guide to writing more inclusive documents, with suggestions for using “amazing” instead of “insane,” “man-hours” instead of “man-hours,” and “older adults” instead of “older people.”
It is recommended to say that someone ‘uses a wheelchair’ rather than describing them as ‘wheelchair bound’ and that a person ‘suffers’ ‘with’ rather than ‘from’ a disability.
Where will the function be rolled out?
The new Google Docs program, which includes the ‘inclusive language’ alert feature, is rolling out to what the company calls standard, enterprise-level users and is on by default.
Google said the feature is in “ongoing development” to identify and “mitigate” unwanted word distortions.
A spokesman for the company said: “Assisted Writing uses language understanding models based on millions of common phrases and sentences to automatically learn how people communicate. This also means that they may reflect some human cognitive biases.
“Our technology is constantly improving, and we still (and may never) have a complete solution to identify and mitigate all unwanted word associations and biases.”