Microsoft launches ‘woke’ editing tool which advises writers to type ‘assigned female at birth’ – Daily Mail

Tech giant Microsoft has launched an editing tool which advises writers to type ‘assigned female at birth’ rather than ‘biologically female’, days after Google introduced an ‘inclusive language’ function on its search engine.

Microsoft’s new tool, which users can opt out of, advises people to avoid using the term ‘biologically female’, as well as suggesting ‘postman’ be changed to ‘postal worker’, ‘Mrs’ to ‘Ms’ and ‘mankind’ to ‘humankind’.

The technology company said the feature has been introduced to help users avoid any implication of gender bias.

However, critics accused Microsoft of censoring language while contradicting the biological meaning of the words ‘woman’ or ‘female’.

Last week it was reported that Google had launched an ‘inclusive language’ function designed to avoid the use of politically incorrect words. 

Tech giant Microsoft has launched an editing tool which advises writers to type 'assigned female at birth' rather than 'biologically female'

Tech giant Microsoft has launched an editing tool which advises writers to type ‘assigned female at birth’ rather than ‘biologically female’

Helen Staniland, a software developer and feminist activist, told the Telegraph that Microsoft’s new feature appears to be trying to influence how people discuss social issues, and accused the company of ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

She said: ‘What do they mean by gender bias? Why are they suggesting that the perfectly descriptive phrase “biologically female” might imply a gender bias? Why would they presume that “assigned female at birth” might be better?

‘It seems that they are trying to jump on the bandwagon of attempting to prevent discussion of ‘biological females’, but their suggestions don’t help them.’

A spokesman for Microsoft said the new feature can be turned off at any point and stressed that the alternative words were just ‘suggestions’ and not ‘autocorrections’.

In a statement, the spokesman said: ‘Microsoft understands that not every Editor suggestion may be suitable for all users and all scenarios. That’s why we let users be in control of their final output.

‘Editor is a completely optional tool that users can turn on or turn off at any point. Editor does not make any autocorrections, all suggestions are just that – suggestions for the user to consider – and the user has control over which suggestions they choose to use, if any.

‘In Word, users will have control at the critique/suggestion level as they will be able to turn on and off each one of them individually.’

Many computer document systems use methods to correct spelling and grammar, but nudging users towards woke language is being seen by critics as a step too far. 

Tests on Google’s new system have thrown up some major flaws. 

A transcribed interview with ex Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke, in which he uses offensive racial slurs and talks about hunting black people, prompted no warnings. But it suggested President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address should say ‘for all humankind’ instead of ‘for all mankind’.  

A spokesman for Microsoft said the new feature can be turned off at any point and stressed that the alternative words were just 'suggestions' and not 'autocorrections'

A spokesman for Microsoft said the new feature can be turned off at any point and stressed that the alternative words were just ‘suggestions’ and not ‘autocorrections’

Users typing ‘landlord’ would see a warning that it ‘may not be inclusive to all readers’ with the suggestion they should try ‘property owner’ or ‘proprietor’ instead.

Similar to Microsoft, the word ‘humankind’ was a suggested alternative to what the Google apparently sees as the controversial term ‘mankind’.

Silkie Carlo, of campaign group Big Brother Watch, told last week’s Sunday Telegraph that Google’s new word warnings ‘aren’t assistive, they’re deeply intrusive’.

A Google spokesman said: ‘Our technology is always improving, and we don’t yet [have] a solution to identifying and mitigating all unwanted word associations and biases.’

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