Pet Please #59: Out-Typing Autofill

There is a classic episode of The Office in which Dwight attempts to outsell the newly launched Dunder-Mifflin website. It’s a back-and-forth contest that lasts the entire workday, and at the end of the day, Dwight dies with a hammer in his hand (wait, I might have just confused that with the legend of John Henry. Either way).

In this golden age of technology, we’re no match for the machines. Satellites can track a person to within a yard of their current location. Lawn mowers can cut your grass for you. TiVo can find your favorite show at any time on any channel. And now Photoshop can unblur blurry photos by processing the direction the camera was moving when the photo was taken and correcting the image.

A prime example of this is autofill. Nonexistent 10 years ago, predictive text is now ubiquitous on our cell phones, iTunes, Amazon, and online search engines. Google knows what we’re looking for before we do.

Thus I always feel extra special when I finish typing my search before autofill predicts it for me. It’s a small victory, but it feels great every time.

The day will come when humans are no match for autofill. But until that day, I will stand triumphant over my computer, hammer in one hand, loincloth in the other. This one’s for the humans!

12 thoughts on “Pet Please #59: Out-Typing Autofill”

  1. I know there was another point to this post, and I’m totally with you on that, but my brain keeps going back to: “Photoshop can unblur blurry photos by processing the direction the camera was moving when the photo was taken and correcting the image.” Holy smokes! I didn’t know that. That’s wicked cool. On the other hand, it seems that sooner or later software will breath for us, eat for us, and sleep for us. How boring. I guess we’ll get our revenge when it starts hitting the WC for us.


    • Cara–Yeah, I was a bit stunned when I read that today on Gizmag. I actually get a little excited about the idea of computers making more and more calculations every millisecond (as is necessary for a tool like that), as that means (to me) that we’re one step closer to teleportation. If a computer can disassemble the millions of components that make up your body, send all that information halfway around the world, and then reassemble them in the correct order, then that’s pretty cool.

        • Jasmin, you took the words out of my mouth. I thought the Star Trek transporter was awesome. Then I saw “The Fly,” plus an episode of Star Trek in which someone teleported and all their particles got lost and never found again. Yikes. No teleporting for me.

          On the other hand, I’d love to take a space flight to another planet. So apparently the possibility of being flash frozen in a total vacuum or poisoned by toxic gases doesn’t bother me.

          But yeah, Jamey, I’ll admit the Photoshop gizmo sounds cool.

          • Really? Given the choice between instant transportation to the moon (and possible non-existence) and months of agonizing travel to the moon (and you still may not make it), you’d choose the latter? Perhaps I underestimate the journey…

            • I doubt you underestimate the journey, but you might underestimate the psychological effects of watching what happens to “The Fly,” as opposed to what happens to Frank Poole in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” 😮

              • That’s a good point about The Fly. It doesn’t look like an enjoyable ride, at least after the first 45 minutes.

          • That movie used to give me nightmares, Cara. If I ever have a chance to long distance space travel, I’ll do it like the people in Avatar. Sleep through the travel and I’m there! Awesomeness. I sleep better in a moving vehicle anyway. Double awesomeness.

  2. I always feel a sense of victory when I can type in my search and Google doesn’t have my suggestion pre-programmed. It’s a small victory, but I’ll take it. 🙂


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