Applying machine learning to everything under the sun can be tricky. Case in point: Gboard's text prediction has been suggesting people type "my face and" after the words "sit on," resulting in a reference to a sexual act. Google says it's an accident, though, and it's working on a fix for the errant suggestion.
The keyboard makes predictions based on both individual users' typing habits and more general language training. By default, it doesn't suggest words or phrases that could be construed as offensive (the option exists, but it's buried five taps into the settings menu), and it generally errs on the side of caution. This seems to be a simple oversight.
I was SMSing our babysitter with the default Android SMS app; I typed "Hey! Are you free to sit" and autocomplete came up with "on my face." Needless to say, I have never entered that string into my Android device. (This is not a joke)
— son of an asylum seeker, father of an immigrant (@doctorow) July 27, 2018
"Gboard is designed to avoid such predictions in its generic models, but human language is complex, and as with any sort of system that filters sensitive phrases, sometimes inappropriate suggestions make it through into the machine learning models," a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
So not to worry; Gboard won't be talking fresh for much longer. And while this particular mishap is pretty mild (and maybe even a little funny, depending on who you ask), you can always delete predictions you don't find useful.
- BuzzFeed News