In October Google will roll-out its Smart Reply AI and become a default setting for all of its 1.4 billion Gmail accounts. This has followed last year’s Smart Reply feature applied to the Gmail app on iOS and Android phones. The feature uses artificial intelligence to scan received emails and suggested responses. Helping Gmail users to avoid the need to type out full replies.
When Smart Reply becomes the default setting it will present users with responses to choose from, based on the content of the email. The suggested phrases come from a growing library of phrases that the Goole bot will identify as relevant. This after Google researchers analysed billions of Gmail messages.
One such example used by Google was when a received email, perhaps a job offer, says, ‘congratulations on the offer, your contract is attached.’ The Smart Reply responses might be, ‘I accept the offer,’ ‘I accept,’ or ‘I’m no longer interested in the position.’
Smart Reply will change the style and tone of the responses as a user chooses more of them, eventually becoming a lot more personalised. Google said they had been manually tweaking its algorithm to remove inappropriate responses. An earlier version would reportedly respond using both ‘sent from my iPhone’ and ‘I love you’ with some embarrassing consequences.
Google is also working on a Smart Compose feature, which will be able to finish a user’s sentence while typing. Again, this will become a default feature by the end of September. Google said that if users don’t want the feature they can opt out on the app.
Google is also working to extend Smart Reply to a number of chat apps such as Slack, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter. They will also introduce a desktop version as well. And, it should be noted that LinkedIn added a smart reply feature to its messages last year.
While there was little in the announcement about privacy Google did acknowledge they needed to address sources of potential bias and should adhere to rigorous privacy standards that never exposes a user’s private information.