Google AI For Email

Let Google Answer Your Emails

Google AI For Email

Sometimes we all get a bit too busy for things like actual human interaction, limited though it may be and thankfully Google is once more coming to the rescue with their announcement yesterday that no longer will you have to endure the mundane task of actually considering and responding to email.  Now you can let them do it for you thanks to the miracle of AI.  Hopefully soon we’ll be able to simply hold up our Android phone and Google can respond for us in actual conversations too.

Sarcasm aside and what this says about us as a species notwithstanding, the actual technology and what they’re hoping to accomplish by it is pretty amazing and borderline frightening.  The fact is, this isn’t about your email at all despite what I might have discussed in an earlier article about a Google patent discussing making it a ranking signal.  This is about AI and Google gaining more-and-more insight into how humans communicate and what they mean.  Let’s consider the announcement of RankBrain last week.  Effectively this portion of the algorithm was powered by AI and was the third most important factoring tool in Google’s ranking.  The problem with it is that AI has trouble understanding the way humans actually communicate in real life and so the results, while decent, still aren’t great.  Let’s now introduce an automated way for Google’s AI to learn in a controlled environment where natural language is heavily used.  Email.

Before we get into how Google will be using it let’s take a quick peek at how it works …

Google SmartReply

Essentially what we’re seeing is Google reading your email and unlike their prior assertions of scanning it for keywords just to insert ads; in this case they are required to functionally seek to understand it.  With that in hand they will provide three options to use as quick replies.  But why? …

With this they will learn:

  • What types of communications can be responded to briefly
  • What do they understand well and when they don’t, what does the recipient enter themselves
  • What of three options are selected when specific messages are sent
  • And I’m sure a lot more

Essentially this gives Google the opportunity to correct their understanding of language and communications on the fly without the need for human programming.  This is going to dramatically speed up the process of their computer learning because the convenience will provide millions of data testers all providing the information Google’s AI needs to learn more about language.  This in turn will be used to power their search and likely a host of other Google services, improving the results through better predictions by their automated systems.

So what we’re seeing here isn’t a convenience tool, it’s a tool to help Google advance search and AI.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just that it’s happening and your search results tomorrow will likely be impacted by how lazy people respond to emails today.

2 Comments

  1. Google didn’t fail to surprise us. It really improves every now and then to make our user-experience an enjoyable one. With Google, things are not really complicated. In fact, it makes life easier for us. Thanks for sharing this post and make us all aware of what’s new and trendy with Google.

  2. My pleasure Joseph. If you liked this news you’ll probably also be interested in TensorFlow – https://www.beanstalkim.com/blog/2015/11/google-giving-out-ai-engine-tensorflow/