Nov. 15, 2014
Sometimes I despair that technology is ruining the world. That in the architecture of these new cryptic systems, we've retained all of our fears, our inclinations to oppress and exploit, and yet failed to build into the virtual world our capacity to grow, to change, to evolve, to love.
But today something gave me hope.
Let me start by saying that my spellcheck is racist as hell. It doesn't correct it when I type "the" instead of 'the" — one of the most common words in the English language. It almost always allow me to use any French word without admonition. But if I type in any African/Islamic phrases it has a million suggestions: type Kemet — "Did you mean Emmet?" the pad asks me. When Amiri Baraka passed, apparently the white guy that runs the algorithm thinks all Black names are spelled alike, so it would occasionally ask me- Did you mean "Barack Obama?" when it wasn't trying to transmute the Arabic into a Jewish name. I think one time, I actually typed the words Kunte Kinte and the name "Toby" magically appeared on the screen...
My keypad is starting to learn. It has learned the words "masjid," "kujichagulia," "wakan," "haShem," "Eid," "wopila," "womyn," and "ashe." It understands that Zenobia was once queen in Palmyra and is now in Detroit.
And today when I typed the word "hashtag," my phone asked me if i meant... "hashish."
It's like the phone finally understands my mind. Like it has grown and changed. Shout out to the plant teachers finding their way into the screens and protocols.
So, now, I not only have hope for the algorithm, I have hope for my own ability to change. To be less racist. To learn. To grow.
I mean, I'm at least as smart as my phone, right? The new age is coming, buds