The Existential Dread of Gmail’s Auto-Complete Feature

Derek Thompson at The Atlantic:

Smart Reply and Smart Compose are smart features that have the effect of highlighting just how unsmart we might be. In a recent interview with a source for another story, I brought up my issues with Gmail’s auto-complete function, and we ended up talking about that for several minutes. “It can be so stressful!” he said. “Sometimes I see Gmail suggest a sentence and then I feel like I have to come up with a better sentence than the machine, because I don’t want my response to feel robotic.” In these cases, Smart Compose doesn’t automate the email process, or save time, at all. Rather, it extends the work of replying to email by alerting writers to the banality of their prose and by establishing a kind of Mendoza Line for non-robotic emailing that has to be surpassed before the author can hit Send with his soul intact. As the source continued to talk about his email issues, I laughed the nervous laugh of somebody who felt, not eerily predicted, but deeply understood.

more here.

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