Then in 2012, Hammond was in Southern California visiting friends. His toddler son was tired, and the group trekked back to the car. While Hammond’s wife chatted with their friends, and his son was falling asleep in his arms, he ran a thought experiment. It began with a popular meme in the AI world: the concept of a “master algorithm.”
This passage reads misogynistic. Sensitive man-genius develops revolutionary idea while holding toddler; woman chats with friends. The reason is that ‘chatted’ is a loaded word, implying banality, idleness, and unsophisticated discussion. Some of the top synonyms include ‘babbled,’ ‘blabbed,’ ‘prattled,’ and ‘prated.’
We later learn that the wife “teaches at Berkeley” (is she a professor or something? teaches what?), so why must she be chatting and not something more sophisticated, which would seem to suit her intellect? Why are women always said to be ‘chatting?’
I think how we, as writers, write about subjects is important. The words we choose matters. This article is about an interesting subject; how AI arises and grows to greater scales is something worth thinking and talking about. In the case of this article, it was all going very well in my mind until that word hit me and I got too distracted to get very much more out of the article. Science communication surely fails when the entirety of the science is not communicated, and misogynistic language does that in my case, and I’m not even a woman. Maybe it is even worse if you’re a woman to always see women ‘chatting’ along in articles and stories while the men are superheroes.