What if your inbox were jam-packed with AI-generated emails? You may already be on the receiving end of emails written by artificial intelligence, with the help of a human prompter. Austin Distel, a senior director of marketing at Jasper, is one of those humans. 

Austin smiles as he demonstrates Japer’s knack for email composition. “These are tools in my tool belt that helped me perform faster, but also better,” he says before sharing that he often uses generative AI to rewrite work emails so they sound like Jerry Seinfeld.

What’s the Deal With Autocomplete?

Email is one the least authentic forms of communication. The stock phrases and courtesy replies are comically robotic. Like, why do you hope this email finds me well? Google has used machine learning in Gmail for the past few years to generate one sentence replies and predict what you’re likely to type next. Newer companies, like Compose AI, might enable people to further rely on autocomplete functions while sending emails.

“Autocomplete is not going to sway you away from what you already want to type. It’s just going to accelerate it,” says Michael Shuffett, a founder and CEO of Compose AI. Although large blocks of AI-generated text from models like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are quite popular, smaller snippets crafted by autocomplete are easier to control at the present moment. It’s akin to riding a tandem bike with a robot versus letting it ride your bike alone at night after giving a one-sentence command. The first option requires more effort, but you’re more likely to reach your intended destination together.

Will major email providers, like Gmail and Outlook, roll out additional AI-powered features to help you breeze through an overstuffed inbox? Aparna Pappu, a vice president and general manager at Google Workspace, mentions multiple ways the company uses AI to assist people when writing messages and detecting spam. In a statement sent to WIRED over, well, email, her attitude on generative AI mirrors most of the messaging coming from Google on the topic: excited, albeit cautious.

“We are in a new era of AI where large language models have the power to take that helpfulness to the next level,” writes Pappu. “We know it’s essential that this work is done with the utmost care for safety, quality, and groundedness.” Businesses who use Microsoft’s customer relationship management system, Viva Sales, can experiment with a generative AI tool for drafting reply emails. Potential canned prompts for the AI include stuff like discount offers and question replies. Microsoft declined to comment for this article, and reaching out to its Bing chatbot for a quote about Outlook felt kinda trite. Sorry, Sydney! 😊

Will the AI Hit Reply All?

So, the future of email may have a more comprehensive autocomplete. Is that revolutionary? Not really.

It would be transformative if a personalized AI model could write complete, high-quality emails in your tone of voice. White-collar workers who spend their days tap, tap, tapping responses on their laptops would essentially get access to a digital executive assistant. Imagine a world where robots spend their days “circling back” on projects and sending “quick pings,” while professionals laze about sipping Mai Tais and focusing on client presentations.

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