May 17, 2017

...AND CHEAPER...:

GOOGLE JUST MADE EMAIL A HECKUVA LOT EASIER TO DEAL WITH (LIZ STINSON, 05.17.17, Wired)


With Smart Reply, Google is assuming users want to offload the burdensome task of communicating with one another to our more efficient counterparts. It's not wrong. The company says the machine-generated replies already account for 12 percent of emails sent; expect that number to boom once everyone with the Gmail app can send one-tap responses. In the short term, that might mean more stilted conversations in your inbox. In the long term, the growing number of people who use these canned responses is only going to benefit Google, whose AI grows smarter with every email sent.

Google's neural networks are already astoundingly capable of analyzing the context, word count, and sentence structure of an email. The technology can distinguish between simple categorical things like a note sent by a bot versus one sent by a dear friend. It handles yes, no questions with the ease of a human. But increasingly, Google's neural networks are getting better at the more nuanced side of language, too, determining if you're the type of person who regularly uses "thanks" or "thanks!" or if the context of a message is positive or negative.

These emotional subtleties are easy for a human to interpret, but it's more complicated for a machine, as Google research scientist Brian Strope and engineering director Ray Kurzweil, note in a blog post. A sentence like, "That interesting person at the cafe we like gave me a glance," is filled with linguistic landmines. For example, was the glance menacing? Or was it positive? With practice--ie: processing millions of emails daily-- the networks can eventually read these nuanced clues. "Given enough examples of language, a machine learning approach can discover many of these subtle distinctions," they write.

Posted by at May 17, 2017 2:57 PM

  

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