John Markoff has an interesting article in yesterday's New York Times about the legal uses of natural language processing. Apparently, companies have begun using software to scan documents and e-mails for information relevant to legal cases rather than pay for hundreds of thousands of lawyer hours.
It all seemed very plausible until I ran into this sentence: “'You tend to split a lot fewer infinitives when you think the F.B.I. might be reading your mail,' said Steve Roberts, Cataphora’s chief technology officer."
I don't know if he's speaking metaphorically or literally, but I have a tough time believing even that people are more careful to apply any prescriptive rules they have been taught if they think they might be under investigation. I hope I'm wrong, not because I hope people split fewer infinitives, but because I hope the technology officer of a NLP company would be opposed to language bullshit. [Update, March 8: See clarification from Keith Schon below.]