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Artificial intelligence

Google is giving Gmail an AI makeover

April 25, 2018

Anyone who uses Google’s prolific e-mail system is going to have an inbox augmented by slick new machine-learning tricks, as of today.

The news: Along with a neat visual redesign, Gmail has introduced a raft of new AI-enabled features—like snoozing e-mails for later, nudging users to respond to messages that need a time-sensitive response, and pre-writing replies to save valuable keystrokes.

Safety first: Security also got a refresh. (Hey, if Google is going to slurp all your data to tune its AI, that’s the least it can do.) A machine-learning algorithm checks every incoming message and alerts users to potential threats with impossible-to-miss color-coded warnings.

Why it matters: Many of these features are already available on Google’s Inbox, a Gmail app geared toward early adopters. But this new roll-out puts AI-powered tools in the hands of 1.4 billion Gmail users (yes, that’s billion). That gives Google another chance to put its massive trove of data to use, and also generate some more—something that might not be an entirely good thing.

Deep Dive

Artificial intelligence

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Large language models are trained on troves of personal data hoovered from the internet. So I wanted to know: What does it have on me?

An AI that can design new proteins could help unlock new cures and materials 

The machine-learning tool could help researchers discover entirely new proteins not yet known to science.

DeepMind’s new chatbot uses Google searches plus humans to give better answers

The lab trained a chatbot to learn from human feedback and search the internet for information to support its claims.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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