The future is now where we don’t have to visit a seedy fortune teller to get the scoop. Maybe.
One reason I love reading Leigh Alexander: She always manages to find a connection between the ethereal parts of our culture and technology at large.
In one of her latest pieces on Motherboard, Alexander draws relations between our smartphone keyboard’s predictive text feature and how that could be used to tell the future. The article, titled Who Needs a Tarot Reading When We Have Predictive Keyboards? (so true) is a larger look at what our phones know about us and how that keyboard data could be used to essentially predict the future. That’s kind of how Tarot works, too!
Your phone’s knowledge base about language is generally shaped in part by collective use and ongoing updates to a shared database, and partially by what it learns from you in particular. No two users will necessarily have the same experience of autocorrect or predictive text, which means the system is simultaneously personal and universal. That’s also one of the traits that makes tarot such a valuable tool to contemplate one’s goals and choices: the system is universal, where each card generally has a particular meaning, but that meaning depends entirely on the context in which the card appears, the interpretation of the person who reads it, and the personal prompt from the querent.
Fascinating, right? Alexander continues on to make the case for how auto-predict has ostensibly become “a new form of traditional folk divination,” as a source puts it in the article.
Before you dive through the piece, I thought it would be fun to share our own fortunes from GBoard, or whatever other keyboard app you’re currently using.
This year, I will be gone for a while and I will be in touch with me.
Alexander suggests typing out a phrase like “This year, I will,” or “My 2017 will be” and then tapping on the words that show up as it make sense for the sentence. Mine were a bit too personal to share, and almost a bit too revealing, but I’m not surprised considering what the keyboard app has witnessed me type. (I bare my heart through text messages to my closest friends — Gboard stores all that!) Here’s one I didn’t mind sharing, though:
What’s your fortune? Share it in the comments!