May 25, 2024

XKCD Web Comic #1068: Swiftkey (described)

A web comic of romance,
sarcasm, math, and language.


Panel One: Drawing of two stick figures talking. The one on the left is holding up a cell phone. The one on the right has shoulder-length dark hair.

Person 1: Have you tried Swift Key? It’s got the first decent language model I’ve seen. – It learns from your SMS/e-mail archives what words you use together most often.

Panel Two: Same as Panel One, except now the other figure is holding the phone.

Person 1: Space bar inserts its best guess. So if I type “The Empi” and hit space three times, it types “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Person 2: What if you mash space in a blank message?

Panel Three: Close up on the second figure looking at the cell phone.

Person 1 (off-panel): I guess it fills in your most likely first word, then the word that usually follows it. . .

Person 2: So it builds up your “typical” sentence. Cool! Let’s see yours!

Person 1 (off-panel): Uh–

Panel Four through Eleven: Close up on the second figure looking at the cell phone and pressing the space bar.

Cell phone: I

Cell phone: Am

Cell phone: So

Cell phone: Sorry–

Cell phone: That’s

Cell phone: Never

Cell phone: Happened

Cell phone: Before.

Hover text: Although the Markov chain-style text model is still rudimentary; it recently gave me “Massachusetts Institute of America.” Although I have to admit it sounds prestigious.


Warning: This comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors).

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