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Gmail Smart Replies and the Ever-Growing Pressure to E-mail Like a Machine

By The New Yorker

I’d avoided my in-box because I was overwhelmed by all the writing that I thought I had to do. But what if I could home in on the notes that demanded truly thoughtful responses and slough off the rRead full story

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  • More and more we will face these questions about where AI is helpful and where it is not. The key benefit here is if, in fact, the auto replies let us then spend more time and attention on the more substantive exchanges. When the technology frees us up to be more caring, responsive and attentive to relationships with other people that does seem like a win.

  • Steven Rodas
    Steven RodasReporter at machineByte

    When the Smart Replies popped up in my emails I didn’t bat an eye. I was used to them popping up on my phone. I prefer to always respond with my own words (regardless of the context) but don’t fault others for not taking such steps.

    I just hope emails don’t become too indistinguishable from text messages, whereas one should obv maintain a higher level of professionalism (darn my phone just auto filled that last word)

  • Like the article said, AI "will do" anything in the near future. What should we prepare for the upcoming AI era? Is it possible that the Smart Reply function using AI is likely to be exploited for crime? (Well, it might be a really good excuse - "I didn't do that. The Smart Reply did it")

  • I like the one-word-or-emoji responses built into LinkedIn. But I can’t stand the Gmail smart replies. Not sure why, but I guess I just haven’t gotten used to it yet. Or maybe my bot is just getting to know me better (spooky).

    Great quote from the article: “My biggest worry about Smart Replies is not that they will make us all sound like machines but that they will make us feel that we have to become machines—that the easier and faster e-mail is to answer, the more our interlocutors will expect

    I like the one-word-or-emoji responses built into LinkedIn. But I can’t stand the Gmail smart replies. Not sure why, but I guess I just haven’t gotten used to it yet. Or maybe my bot is just getting to know me better (spooky).

    Great quote from the article: “My biggest worry about Smart Replies is not that they will make us all sound like machines but that they will make us feel that we have to become machines—that the easier and faster e-mail is to answer, the more our interlocutors will expect an immediate response.”

    Well written @rachsyme @newyorker via @qz @cynthiajaggi

  • Patrick deHahn
    Patrick deHahnNews curator at Quartz

    Recently, I thought -- with the writing prompts on GMail or even on my mobile texting Swype keyboard -- who am I really speaking to? Am I speaking to a colleague, friend, family member... or are they using those AI-powered prompts and I don't know it? Do we ever notice?

    Does it erase personality or does it recognize and protect one's speaking/writing style? Could it eventually have everyone speaking in the same way?

  • Liz Webber
    Liz WebberNews curator at Quartz

    Who is responding to emails while driving??? And can we all just agree that Nudges are terrible and not terribly productive or useful?

  • Helen Edwards
    Helen EdwardsAlways curious at Koru Ventures

    Sometimes I agonize over the smallest thing in an email. Usually it’s the opening of an opener, the toss up between “I wanted to reach out” versus “great to meet you, I wanted to follow up.” These can be hard because I’m trying to simultaneously figure out what might work best with this particular person on this particular day so that my email gets read and replied to. Am I overthinking or is this an example of human intelligence in action? Quick, obvious, variation-on-a-theme replies in response

    Sometimes I agonize over the smallest thing in an email. Usually it’s the opening of an opener, the toss up between “I wanted to reach out” versus “great to meet you, I wanted to follow up.” These can be hard because I’m trying to simultaneously figure out what might work best with this particular person on this particular day so that my email gets read and replied to. Am I overthinking or is this an example of human intelligence in action? Quick, obvious, variation-on-a-theme replies in response to questions are a good example of A.I. being super useful at low skill stuff. I’m looking forward to the day when an AI can help with the harder stuff. Maybe the “help” is that people will appreciate an actual human email.

  • William Wood
    William WoodOwner at William Wood

    I don’t use gmail, Google has a way of using my info... also, I have enough trouble with spellcheck, completing my thoughts would probably gum up the works, and I would just call...

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