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Is Big Brother writing your emails for you?

Google now knows what you want to type in an email before you do. (Deposit photo)
Google now knows what you want to type in an email before you do. (Deposit photo)

“Awesome, thanks!”

If I respond to an email from you, and that’s the response you get, it might not actually be me.

Thanks to the latest, fairly big-brotherish feature launched on Google Mail earlier this year, I don’t actually have to respond to my own emails anymore. Gmail’s Smart Compose does it for me.

“Awesome, thanks!” was one of the suggested responses to an email from one of my fellow reporters that she was working on a story for our web page.

I could have also responded with a simple “Thanks!” or “Sounds Good.” based on my level of enthusiasm over the story.

I must admit on one level it kind of creeps me out, mostly because it’s so accurate.

Those were likely the responses I would have made of my own free will, especially “Awesome, thanks!”

Apparently, Google knows that I’m an old Generation Xer who perpetually overuses the word “awesome” like I haven’t realized the 80s are over.

Get out of my head Google.

It is a little unsettling to think that Google is storing enough information about my habits and communication styles that it can answer an email pretty much the same way I would.

And it’s not just with replies. On several occasions I was sending a message to a contact that was obvious enough that Google started finishing my sentences like an overbearing spouse.

It’s rather weird.

I start typing out a story to another reporter “Can I get help with the story I’m w..” and before I can type out the rest of the words “…orking on?” pops up in gray letters ahead of my key prompt. All I have to do is hit the “end” button and the sentence is done – just like that.

It correctly predicts what I’m going to write next or what my response is going to be more than it doesn’t, and it isn’t just completing words or saying “Hey, Thanks!” sometimes it’s given me options like “I’m going to have to get back to you on that.”

Did Google know I didn’t have an easy answer to the query I had just received?

Just how much of my email is Google reading?

I must admit on another level I kind of like it, mostly because it’s so accurate.

Once I get over the heebie jeebies that my computer knew exactly what I was going to type next, I could see that just hitting that one key certainly was easy.

More than once I went to write my own response to an email and looked at the Google suggestion and it already had what I wanted to say written out.

It was beckoning me to just click it and get it over with. So, I did.

While as a writer I still find it a little unsettling that a computer thinks it can form thoughts for me better and faster than I can, it’s starting to become second nature to just click the box and let Google answer for me.

And just think of the milliseconds of time I’m shaving off my work day by clicking “Thanks!” instead of writing it out.

Maybe I’ll eventually be able to take on a second job – unless Google is already doing that for me too.

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