The Nexus One's @#$% Voice Recognition Censorship

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News Posted: Sun, Jan 24 2010 4:26 PM
One of the cool features of the Nexus One, AKA the Google Phone, is built-in voice recognition. We're not talking about Voice Commands, like "call so-and-so," we're talking about being able to use voice input for virtually anything (like SMS). Of course, while Google may no longer be willing to censor search results in China, voice input on the Nexus One is a different matter.

Reuters discovered that if, for example, you wanted to SMS the sentence "Where the $%^# are you?" to your friend, who may be running late, the word "$%^# " (which we're obviously censoring ourselves) will be instead replaced by #### (the correct number of #s for the word, assuming the Nexus One recognized the word properly). So why, free speech advocates might ask, should the device do this?

Well, the answer is related to our comment above about "assuming the Nexus One recognized the word properly." It's about the device recognizing non-profanity as profanity, not the cursing itself. Google said:
“We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent.

“Ultimately our goal is to return results that show exactly what you said, and we’re constantly working to improve the technology to better fit our users’ needs.”
Anyone who's ever experienced the vagaries of "Call so-and-so" with the response from your phone of "Say a command" will understand where that comes from.

As a demonstration of that sort of technology faux pas, and in an attempt to plug a comedy we love, there was a great episode of the new series "Modern Family" this week where Mitchell, speaking about where his father should go and prompted by his car's GPS with "Enter destination," replied "Hell," to which the car replied "Mexican food."

That's a little over 4 minutes into this Hulu video:

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Jan 24 2010 7:27 PM

Sounds like they did the right thing. I'd much rather lose the ability to send immature language than have the ability to accidentally send what would appear a drunken foul message to a business associate (who wouldn't have any idea voice-recognition was involved).

But seriously - why not use voice mail?

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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gibbersome replied on Sun, Jan 24 2010 10:35 PM

Lol, that was pretty funny (referring to the clip)! Ahh, I going to miss it when Hulu isn't free anymore. I'm really liking this Modern Family show...

But yeah, good understandable by Google...but it would stand to reason that you'd be able to proof-read your text sending it, right?

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rapid1 replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 2:33 AM

I agree 3vi1. Sending a wrong message of any kind is easy. So this would just be like a check b4 you send it with no effort.

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ClemSnide replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 6:09 AM

So if you say "Where the dollar percent caret pound are you?" it'll send "Where the pound pound pound pound are you?" That's not good, especially if you're trying to use Linux. Those funny characters are significant. And a lot of these phones are Linux-based, so if you depend on the voice recognition you could wind up pipelining a program output to the wrong device, or sending the wrong parameter. No, I'd say Google really splarged up here.


"I didn't cry when Bambi's mother was shot... but I cried when HAL was turned off."

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 7:45 AM

+1 funny.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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realneil replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 12:08 PM

Any censorship sux. You should read your own message before you send it or suffer in your own stew.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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rapid1 replied on Tue, Jan 26 2010 2:20 AM

Good point Realneil

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3vi1 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 5:07 PM

realneil:

Any censorship sux. You should read your own message before you send it or suffer in your own stew.

I don't disagree.  It should be optional.  Still, they seem to have defaulted to my own preferences.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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