Google's "Reply" will text your friends back for you, allowing robots to take over the world?
Friends, chums, pals — we love you, but sometimes we forget to text you back. It’s nothing against you. It’s us. We’re forgetful (and sometimes lazy). Lucky for us, but maybe not so lucky for you, Google is here to help us be more social. Because Google’s “Reply” feature aims to use Artificial Intelligence to do all the texting for us.
According to The Guardian, Google’s experimental product lab, Area 120, is currently in the testing phases for Reply. The feature allows AI to “read” what your friends and acquaintances text you via Google Hangouts, Allo, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Android Messages, Skype, Twitter direct messages, and Slack. It will then weave together responses that you can send with a single tap.
Google’s Reply takes your location, virtual calendar details, and other information into account while crafting its response. One example The Guardian reports is if your friend asks, “When can you be home?” Reply will recall your preferred mode of transportation and will calculate your travel time based on your current location and where “home” is.
Like we said, this is definitely cool. But Reply also sounds kind of robots run the world-y, which makes us a wee bit nervous.
Google has already implemented a “Smart Reply” feature in Gmail and Allo, which works virtually the same way as Reply. Gmail and Allo users can choose an AI-crafted response that’s created based on the information in an email. They can simply tap one of the responses and send. Easy-peasy.
Those behind the new Reply feature aim to make Reply a beefed-up, smarter version of Smart Reply. According to Android Police, Reply will also offer a Do Not Disturb feature for when you’re driving. Reply will let people know you’re unavailable and silence your phone.
Reply can also alert users when an urgent text is sent, even if your phone is set to silent. And when you’re on vacation, Reply will tell people that you are off the grid until Monday.
We can definitely see this new Google feature coming in handy. But we also think The Guardian raises a good point. If we’re not the ones responding to friends and coworkers, then isn’t it just robots talking to robots? Huh. (Twilight Zone theme song plays.)