Google Will Start Using A.I. To Automatically Generate Email Responses

Google is rolling out its latest tech magic trick this week: an A.I. system that will read and respond to emails for you when you’re on the go. Called Smart Reply, the technology was designed to create alternatives for those hasty typo-ridden emails we all craft in a rush. The system generates three possible responses for each email, ranging from three to six words; simply pick the response that best fits your intended message and tone, and hit send.

Smart Reply, which will be rolled out on the Google Inbox app for Android and iOs, uses a form of artificial intelligence called “deep learning,” which learns more and more about language and grammar as it reads more emails. That means, even if its responses are currently pretty simple, it’s only going to get more sophisticated over time.

In order to develop the email response system, Google had Smart Reply analyze actual email conversations across Gmail. It learned common email replies like “Thanks,” “Sounds good,” and “How about tomorrow?” and learned how to identify their appropriate contexts.

According to Popular Science, Smart Reply uses two neural networks to craft its replies. The first reads and analyzes your email, while the second generates a response.

But while neural networks are inspired by the web of neurons that make up the human brain, that doesn’t mean the Smart Reply system understands your emails the way a human would. For example, the system generates its email responses by choosing each word based on the logical and grammatical information that preceded it: “It’s a lot like the game where a group of people have to tell a story one word at a time,” explains Popular Science. “Except it’s only one person, and that person is a machine.”

[h/t: Popular Science]

A Florida Brewery Created Edible Six-Pack Rings to Protect Marine Animals

For tiny scraps of plastic, six-pack rings can pose a huge threat to marine life. Small enough and ubiquitous enough that they’re easy to discard and forget about, the little plastic webs all too often make their way to the ocean, where animals can ingest or become trapped in them. In order to combat that problem, Florida-based Saltwater Brewery has created what they say is the world’s first fully biodegradable, compostable, edible six-pack rings.

The edible rings are made of barley and wheat and are, if not necessarily tasty, at least safe for animals and humans to ingest. Saltwater Brewery started packaging their beers with the edible six-pack rings in 2016. They charge slightly more for their brews to offset the cost of the rings' production. They hope that customers will be willing to pay a bit more for the environmentally friendly beers and are encouraging other companies to adopt the edible six-pack rings in order to lower manufacturing prices and save more animals.

As Saltwater Brewery president Chris Gove says in the video above: “We want to influence the big guys and kind of inspire them to also get on board.”

When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.


More from mental floss studios