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

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: