Wednesday 26 November 2014

To Err is Human: The Perils of Auto-Correct

By Anderley Walton

With ever evolving technology and the increased use of smartphones, more and more business deals are taking place remotely, on the go or from various corners of the world. Sourcing events are no longer confined to the board room over an array of stale biscuits but can instead take place swiftly and effectively via the Internet. However, with this rising use of remote communication, the need to be clear is imperative, but what can we do when our communication skills are outsourced or even predicted?

The following will discuss a common topic which will no doubt have affected us all at one stage: auto-correct.

On more than one occasion we will have all sent a nonsensical, often humorous, text followed by furious finger tapping offering corrections; often this haste results in more embarrassing typos. Recalling your recent date, confessing;

“I killed him before I left”

'Kissed', you meant 'kissed'!

Previously we were in charge of our typological errors, now auto-correct rules over them. However, it can be argued that most corrections are senseless and rarely is the context of the message taken into account.  This results in common errors such as 'can' to 'can’t', 'ill' to 'I’ll' (it seems auto-correct often enjoys inserting apostrophes).

But what happens when this spills into business, when a miscommunication can have misleading and possibly damaging effects?
“We can’t renew this year’s fire alarm agreement. Please proceed under the current schedule of works” 
You meant 'can' but the contractor has misunderstood, completed the contract and not returned to site. It’s Christmas and no one has followed up.

We rely on technology to improve our interactions and provide the highest level of user satisfaction. Is the next generation of technology set to provide an all-round more human experience, marking a new age where we no longer adapt to technology but it adapts to us?

With regards to auto-correct, third party keyboards are now readily available and their inclusion within Apple's new iOS 8 update sent these apps flying up the App Store charts. SwiftKey, an android favourite, is now available for iOS and promises to customise your experience by learning your writing skills; claiming it can even predict what you are going to write next.

A substantial amount of business is done remotely; if we can tailor the experience to the user we can streamline daily tasks and exchanges, creating a more efficient, understandable work environment. But can we really, as human beings, outsource all our mental functions?


  1. Well written & true to the point.

  2. Fantastic blog - gets right to the heart of the issue!