Predictive Text Language Project

Hello friends and family! Do you want to contribute to an art piece I’m currently working on? Now’s your chance! Doing everything involved should take about 10-15 minutes (including reading this), and all you need is a smartphone with predictive text capabilities (which is pretty much any smartphone nowadays).

THE PROJECT: I am creating multimedia installations using text generated by YOUR smartphone.

SOME BACKGROUND: A couple years ago, smartphones introduced “predictive text” features designed to help you text more easily by suggesting words to speed up your communication. The predictive word choices that appear above your keyboard as you type are what your phone thinks you’re mostly likely to say next. How does it know that? Using artificial intelligence, your phone has been training itself over the thousands of messages you’ve sent, or through notes you’ve typed out for yourself. The more you communicate on your phone, the more useful the words it suggests, and therefore the better it can model your speech. I like to think of this artificially intelligent tool as creating a phantom version of ourselves that lives inside of our phones, growing more and more like us every day.

I have found that by pressing a single predictive text key repeatedly instead of manually typing out words when composing a message, the language the phone generates is surprisingly coherent and kind of poetic, if a bit nonsensical. More importantly, the language it generates is unique to each phone, so in that way it is quite personal, and sometimes eerily revealing.

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