Google’s New AI Will Reply to Your Gmails so You Don’t Have To

Google is planning to launch a new feature that aims to write artificially intelligent responses to your email, which is also called automated reply. In other words, the search giant is planning to come up with a new tool that can rapidly reply to someone while traveling without having to type a fresh message manually into your smartphone keyboard.

The new technology called Smart Reply uses “deep learning” — a form of artificial intelligence – to its Inbox by Gmail app that will analyze email conversations from across Google’s Gmail service and suggest a few, brief responses.

“The network will tailor both the tone and content of the responses to the email you’re reading”, says Alex Gawley, Product Management Director at Google.

“Smart Reply suggests up to three responses based on the emails you get”, said Google. Users then simply tap on the Smart Reply suggestion of choice to start editing and adding to it, if required. “For those emails that only need a quick response, it can take care of the thinking and save precious time spent typing. And for those emails that require a bit more thought, it gives you a jump start so you can respond right away,” added Google.

Smart Reply technology is a part of an update to Google’s Inbox app for managing and organizing email. It uses a deep learning service that feeds information into a neural network that is designed to act like the web of neurons in a human brain, and the network then takes that information and “learns” a task.

“A naive attempt to build a response generation system might depend on hand-crafted rules for common reply scenarios,” Greg Corrado, senior research scientist at Google, writes. “But in practice, any engineer’s ability to invent ‘rules’ would be quickly outstripped by the tremendous diversity with which real people communicate.

“The machine-learned system, by contrast, implicitly captures diverse situations, writing styles, and tones. These systems generalize better, and handle completely new inputs more gracefully than brittle, rule-based systems ever could.”

However, the experts on deep learning say that such systems have their limitations. “With a finite amounts of data, you can create a rudimentary understanding of the world,” says Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, the Chinese search giant that also sits at the forefront of the deep learning movement, “but humans learn about the world in all sorts of ways [we can’t yet duplicate].”

Google expects its new “smart reply” option to be particularly popular when people are checking emails on smartphones equipped with smaller, touch-screen keyboards.
The new feature is available to all consumers who use the free version of Inbox, as well as the more than 2 million businesses who pay for Google’s suite of applications designed for work.

The Smart Reply feature is slated to roll out across Google’s Inbox for Android and iOS apps later this week and will be available on both Google Play and the App Store in English. So, if you have got a lot of emails to reply, then it may not be a bad idea to try out the new feature.

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