Conference Accepts ‘Academic’ Paper Written Using Autocomplete

Not only was its author clueless about physics, the text doesn't make any sense

Oct 24, 2016 at 12:45 PM ET

Try something for a second: Grab your iPhone, open a new iMessage window, and start writing a message using only the predictive text feature. It may make sense for a few words, but then it will completely jump the shark. But somehow, Christoph Bartneck, an associate professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury Human Interface Technology lab, just wrote an entire paper in that exact manner, and it was accepted by an international conference.

Bartneck explains in a blog post that he was spammed by the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics to submit a paper. Flattering, but the problem was, Bartneck had “practically no knowledge” of nuclear physics. Naturally, he turned to iOS’s predictive text feature. He’d start each sentence with “atomic” or “nuclear” and got a lot of text that didn’t really make sense. Here’s an excerpt from the paper:

The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person to your great time to take the fun and take a great time and enjoy the great day you will be a wonderful time for your parents and kids. Molecular diagnostics will have been available for the rest by a single day and a good day to the rest have a wonderful time and aggravation for the rest day at home time for the two of us will have a great place for the rest to be great for you tomorrow and tomorrow after all and I am a very happy boy to the great day and I hope he is wonderful.

Yep, those are some run-on sentences that don’t make any sense. Bartneck also cribbed an illustration for the paper from Wikipedia, submitting it under the pseudonym Iris Pear. Defying all logic, the paper was accepted just three hours later. Bartneck was also invited to attend the November conference and give an oral presentation, but he declined, because he says his university probably would have seen it as a waste of money and resources. He also notes that the conference in question is probably not a good one. So is this an endorsement of iOS’s predictive text as a great, intuitive technology? Of course not! But if you want to submit a paper to this conference as well, I’d say your chances of being accepted are probably good.