Google is attempting to combat the issue of inbox clutter and unanswered messages with its new smart reply feature released this week to its new email app, Inbox.
This feature will scan your emails and then suggest replies for you based on the contents of the email.
Inbox will be using machine learning for this new feature, which was released on Nov. 5.
Machine learning is comprised of a number of specific types of computer algorithms that are programmed to learn how to complete tasks.
Google is familiar with machine learning, as it already uses the concept in a variety of its apps, including its photo app.
As people use the new smart reply feature more, the program will figure out how users typically respond to emails and will adjust its suggestions based on these trends.
As college students, we are all pressed for time, so Google’s smart reply feature could help us uncover and reply to important messages from professors or fellow students in inboxes littered with emails about campus events that often go unread. Emails that might get lost in the shuffle could now be answered more quickly and efficiently.
Google already uses similar features to smart reply on one of its newest products, the smartwatch.
Smart reply and other auto-writing features are incredibly useful on Google’s smartwatch, where its small screen can make typing difficult.
One might deem this kind of technology necessary for something like a smartwatch, but as this technology moves over to iOS and Android, it provokes more questions about our growing dependence on technology.
Since the development of the smartphone, humans have been exposed to a world where something as vast and expansive as the Internet is always in our front pockets.
Humans no longer live in a world where face-to-face communication is necessary, thanks to text messaging, Skype and email, for example. Smart reply could exacerbate this pattern.
Society has now reached the point where human interaction, even through an online medium, is no strictly necessary.
This issue will only compound itself as new generations are raised to be reliant on the latest technologies.
So, even as technology continues to make seemingly simple tasks, such as replying to emails, even easier, it begs the question: Are we sure this is a good thing?