Safe, personalized, automated communication for modern humans
I have always believed in the power of language. Having been a songwriter since middle school and a computational linguistics student in college, I can appreciate it for its beauty as well as its mechanics.
This obsession with language lead me to launch Hey two years ago. Hey sought to simplify communication by boiling it down to a single word, the most powerful one in English: “hey,” not “yo.” Today, I’m excited to take this idea another step further with a big announcement…
I am leaving Google to pursue a new venture: NewSpeak, an iOS keyboard that predicts (and suggests) entire sentences, not just words.
A little background
Over the centuries, technological advancements have punctuated the history of written language, massively improving the accuracy and speed by which humans communicate at each step of the way.
The first great example of this is the alphabet, which became a standard protocol for humans all over the (western) world around 8th century BCE. Unlike most pictographs at the time, it allowed writers to convey not only the meaning but also the sound of words with only a few brush strokes.
Autocorrect is the most recent development on this front, allowing mobile phone users to send messages with perfect spelling and near-perfect grammar while only having to type a fraction of the letters in each word. Apple took this a step further, by suggesting entire words before users even type them.
But still autocorrect is limited. The technology is prone to suggesting incorrect and sometimes horribly ill-timed words. These blunders have caused high schools to get locked down and people to lose their jobs.
The core reason that autocorrect is so bad is that it doesn’t get intention. Of course you don’t want to call your girlfriend by another woman’s name or tell your boss you’re building a bomb, but autocorrect wouldn’t know that without lots and lots of data.
And that’s where we come in.
If autocorrect is a sports car, NewSpeak is a rocket ship — it’s one step up from Apple’s autocorrect which predicts the next word you’re going to say:
NewSpeak predicts the next sentence you’re going to say.
Instead of just considering the context of a word or sentence like autocorrect, NewSpeak considers everything about you. Our team consists of black hat hackers, cryptography experts, surveillance veterans, which gives us the unique ability to access any data set in the world.
So far, for citizens in select countries, we’ve started tracking the basics: geolocation, Google search history, credit card statements, etc. Over the next several months we will be adding over 850 other signals, tapping into everything from your Tinder profile to your baby cam.
We don’t believe this is an intrusion of privacy. This is about making the world a better place.
Data has the unique ability to make our lives easier and safer when aggregated and analyzed. NewSpeak hopes to become your big brother that knows everything about you and looks out for you. Here’s an example of the experience we hope to create:
You are running late to a morning meeting with your boss — we know this because of geolocation and calendar integration (among a few thousand other indicators). Before you even think about sending a message to your boss, we have curated a set of sentences based on what you have said in the past as well as best practices pulled from millions of obnoxious self-help / career development articles and books. When you decide to send the message, all you have to do is tap one button.
NewSpeak is a powerful tool, but it would be nothing without our partners. We are proud to start our journey with 5 outstanding Corporate Brand Partners: MillerCoors, PepsiCo, Pfizer, McDonalds and Starbucks.
We’re setting up a system to allow these partners (and many more to come) to purchase sponsored sentences that appear within NewSpeak. For example, we can help MillerCoors inject the sentence “Let’s grab a Coors Light after work” into any conversation between any set of users, and follow up with sentences like “I’ll pick up a 30-pack on my way home” without the user needing to type a thing.
For the first time in advertising history, we have developed a system that monetizes user intention.
While one of the major aims of NewSpeak is to help users convey themselves accurately with less effort, we also hope to help users communicate their ideas safely.
Words are dangerous, so we will do all we can to ensure that our users say the correct words. During times of war for example, it is becoming increasingly unfavorable to say the word “protest” or “resist”. We use this awareness of context to protect users by removing these words from lexicon.
In controlling and manipulating the keyboard, we seek to make communication innately pure — void of dangerous concepts. It will become impossible to endanger yourself with words.
We are enlisting 7 Government Safety Sponsors: North Korea, Zimbabwe, China, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
These governments have been pioneers in protecting citizens over the years through linguistic and media intervention, which is why we’re incredibly excited to work with them.
So maybe now you’re just as excited for Newspeak to launch as we are. Unfortunately, you must still wait. We do not have a beta tester program, a website or even an email list; but that said, we are coming.
NewSpeak will arrive slowly, and then all at once. Be ready.