‘Annoying as hell’: Google Docs features ‘inclusive warning’ pop-ups

Google Docs recently launched a rollout of new “assistive writing” features, and among them is an “inclusive warning” pop-up that tells users if words they’ve typed in don’t cut the mustard on the woke scale.

The platform gives you the lowdown on its Workspace Updates page, even showing you what happens when a Google Docs user makes the unfortunate choice of typing the non-inclusive term “chairman” into a document. Like a virtual slap on the wrist, the pop-up instructs the user to choose the more inclusive “chairperson”:

Vice gave the feature a test drive and called it “annoying as hell.”

After one of its staffers typed in the word “Motherboard” — the name of the Vice department reporting on the new Google Docs feature — the inclusive warning pop-up indicated that “some of these words may not be inclusive to all readers. Consider using different words.”

The outlet added that journalist Rebecca Baird-Remba tweeted an inclusive warning she received on the word “landlord” — along with the suggestion that she change it to “property owner” or “proprietor.”

Vice also said an excerpt from former President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address was typed in, and a suggestion came back to change the phrase “for all mankind” to “for all humankind.” However, the outlet added that a “transcribed interview of neo-Nazi and former Klan leader David Duke — in which he uses the N-word and talks about hunting black people — gets no notes.”

Vice reported that Google said the feature is an “ongoing evolution.”

“Assisted writing uses language understanding models, which rely on millions of common phrases and sentences to automatically learn how people communicate. This also means they can reflect some human cognitive biases,” a Google spokesperson said, according to the outlet. “Our technology is always improving, and we don’t yet (and may never) have a complete solution to identifying and mitigating all unwanted word associations and biases.”

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