Best Of The Web
“I don’t use the phrase “Will do!” much in daily conversation, but lately it has been creeping into more and more of my e-mails. An editor asks me to get a draft back to her tomorrow? Will do! A friend heading back to Los Angeles from New York sends me a quick note telling me to enjoy living in the “best city in the world.” Will do! The hosts of a panel I’m moderating need me to send over a three-line bio? Will do!
“Will do!” is just one of many Smart Replies that Google now provides as a default feature in Gmail, there to assist you in your message composition unless you choose to manually turn them off. In October, the e-mail service, which one analytics firm suggests hosts about a quarter of all the e-mails sent worldwide, made this feature standard on its 1.4 billion active accounts, along with a menu of other innovations. These include Smart Compose, a feature that finishes your sentences for you with the help of robot intelligence, and Nudges, a feature that bumps unanswered e-mails to the top of your in-box, making you feel increasingly guilty with every sign-in.
As with many technological updates that are suddenly imposed on unsuspecting users, the new Gmail interface has been met with much annoyance. When my in-box started offering me Smart Replies, I felt a little offended. How dare it guess what I want to say, I thought. I—a professional writer!—have more to offer than just “Got it!” or “Love it!” or “Thanks for letting me know!” (Smart Replies are big on exclamation points.) I started to resent the A.I., which seemed to be learning my speech patterns faster than I could outsmart it. Just as I decided that I’d thwart the machine mind by answering my messages with “Cool!” (side note: it is hard to sound like anything but a Dad Trying to Be Hip over e-mail, even without robotic intervention), the service started offering me several “Cool” varietals. Suddenly, I could answer with “Sounds cool” or “Cool, thanks” or the dreaded “Cool, I’ll check it out!” (Spoiler: I’m not going to check it out.)”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"China’s Hydrogen economy Is coming: The world’s electric-vehicle king is seeking leadership in fuel cells, too. Investors are probably right to be excited."
"It would be the height of naivete to believe the book is closed. Democrats on Capitol Hill are not just going to take the attorney general's conclusions and move on to new things."
"Netanyahu has brazenly allied himself with Trump’s Administration and his family (including the cryptic peace negotiator, Jared Kushner, whose family he has known for years), as well as with the Republican Party and Republican funders..."
"Us is stranger than Get Out, with deeper philosophical undercurrents flowing through it. The rabbit that greets you at the movie’s start is an invitation. Will you follow, like Alice in her Wonderland?"
"Democrats and Republicans seem to have irreconcilable views on economics, but on one point they agree: Small business is better than big."
"Sanctuary, a digital astrology start-up backed by $1.5 million in venture capital, made the considered decision to launch its service on Wednesday — the dawn of the new astrological year, when Pisces gives way to Aries in the astral cycle."
"It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good..."
"Apartment Therapy posted a photo to Instagram of a bookshelf with the spines facing inward, and the dramatic response — dozens of users denouncing the trend as anti-intellectual, even comparing it to book-burning ..."
"Perhaps it is time to add parenting to the growing list of “replacement religions” competing for our attention and currency these days, a list that already includes workism and politics."
"Only a fraction of the world’s yeast species have been discovered. The ones still out there could revolutionize health care, green energy, and beer."
"We’ve recently fixated on expunging “fake news” but the medical world also has its charlatans. The snake-oil salespeople, masquerading as health professionals, are naturopaths."
"...should we continue to teach thinkers like Kant, Voltaire and Hume without mention of the harmful prejudices they helped legitimize?"