I found this while browsing Reddit, and going past the first reaction of “this is terrible” I think it can spark an interesting discussion on machine learning and how our own societal problems can end up creating bad habits and immortalizing those issues when building such systems.
So, what do you guys think about this?
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If the google english dictionary allowed for a gender neutral pronouns, this wouldn’t be a problem. I’m less mad about an algorithm accurately representing a sexist culture, and more upset that it inaccurately interpreted the original text.
As I stated in another comment, in cases like this with gender neutrality it could easily use “he/she” instead of assuming, it would interpret the text more accurately while being respectful and without going out of the defined dictionary by using “them” or something like this.
They can be used for a singular person according to some dictionaries https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/they
It’s not ideal in all situations though, since we need to be able to differentiate between plural and singular pronouns. He/she would make more sense in this context.
As a lifelong grammarian, I’ve always hate hate hated that English lacks a technically “correct” gender-neutral third person singular pronoun, and I’m frankly rather relieved to see an emerging consensus forming around “they.” It may seem awkward for now, but this is how languages evolve - a grammatical “error” gets wedged into a niche to serve a linguistic need. The change is already happening, and in fifty years no one will remember or care that it used to be wrong.
Boy, I wish I could say the same for portuguese (my native language). It has the same issue but the second someone tries to bring the idea up they are instantly treated like the “twitter cancer trying to destroy our language”.
Same here in Germany.