Everywhere you turn lately it seems like tech companies are adding some kind of AI feature to their software. Sometimes these updates are incredibly useful. Other times… not so much.
We discovered that Microsoft Word will now automatically generate Alt Text (alternative text) descriptions of the images you insert into your documents after it described an Ethiopic scroll as a roll of toilet paper. Clearly the robots have some training to do on cultural heritage materials.
Alternative text is important for making documents more accessible and we make every effort to add it when we can. I’m sure this automatically generated text is accurate enough for stock images and maybe will improve over time, but for the treatment and handling documentation we create it’s really only good for a laugh. We have turned it off rather than risk some ridiculous description being saved in our work. Just open the Options menu and look for either Accessibility or Ease of Access (depending on your version) to silence the machines.