*~*my week on google’s smart re­ply*~*

Tests the com­pany’s new auto e-mail gen­er­a­tor Dear friends, fam­ily, and col­leagues, Re­ply That’s what I thought. You’re the best! May 12 (1 minute ago)

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On/mid-market - Sam Gro­bart

I need to ex­plain my­self. For the past week, I may have seemed short, or even a bit odd, over e-mail. It’s not you, it’s me. Ac­tu­ally, it’s not me, it’s Google.

Re­cently, the com­pany added Smart Re­ply to its desk­top In­box ser­vice, which sorts e-mails into rel­e­vant batches for you. When you get cer­tain mes­sages, Google of­fers up prewrit­ten an­swers. You click on one of three sug­ges­tions, hit Send, and you’re done.

I de­cided to use Smart Re­ply—and only Smart Re­ply—for a week. It meant sur­ren­der­ing my voice to Google’s, which was some­times an odd fit. Dad, when you told me you were hav­ing an an­giogram, you may have found my re­sponse of “Good luck!” a bit brusque for the oc­ca­sion. On the other hand, when I agreed with you, Emily, by writ­ing, “That’s what I thought!” it was what I thought. It was also what Google sug­gested.

Smart Re­ply may seem like an in­signif­i­cant short­cut, but it marks the start of our ro­bot over­lords’ reign. The re­sponses Google gen­er­ates aren’t ran­dom—nor are they the prod­uct of a sim­ple rules-based equa­tion in which a search for cer­tain words gen­er­ates a cor­re­spond­ing re­ply. How do I know this? I e-mailed the com­pany and asked to talk to some­one (on the phone, so I could be sure it was a hu­man) about how it works. The hu­man was Greg Cor­rado, se­nior re­search sci­en­tist at Google Brain, whose de­part­ment de­vel­oped the fea­ture, at first just for In­box’s mo­bile app. “It learns by ex­am­ple,” he told me. “It learns to mimic be­hav­ior that we demon­strate for it.”

Smart Re­ply un­der­stands the con­tent of the mes­sage you’ve re­ceived, as well as its tone. When I replied to friends and fam­ily, my canned re­sponses of­ten had a cheery ex­cla­ma­tion point (“Great! Can’t wait!”). When I replied to some­one less fa­mil­iar, Smart Re­ply was more sober: “That sounds good. Thank you.”

On some level, I’ve be­trayed you. You took the time to write, and all I did was roll my mouse around. For­tu­nately, none of you seemed to de­tect the out­sourc­ing of our cor­re­spon­dence, though I’m not sure what that says about your abil­ity to pass a Tur­ing test. Alyssa, af­ter I said that lunch “Sounds great!” you sug­gested some dates. Un­for­tu­nately, Smart Re­ply coun­tered with “Great! Does 6:30 p.m. work?” (Google’s still work­ing out some kinks.) Even though I like the idea of Span­ish-in­flu­enced meal times, 6:30 was be­yond my Iberian as­pi­ra­tions. I han­dled that one man­u­ally.

But peo­ple, I must con­fess: When ap­pro­pri­ate, I’m go­ing to keep us­ing Smart Re­ply, mostly be­cause the Google man is right. “A lot of e-mail is not some­thing you should put a lot of thought into,” Cor­rado said. “Putting ef­fi­ciency into those mes­sages so you can get that time back to put into e-mails you ac­tu­ally need to put thought into—or, bet­ter yet, do some­thing other than write e-mails—sounded good to us.” In­deed. That sounds good. Thank you.

Love, Sam lunch­date.png

Hol­ly­wood reached its max­i­mum nat­u­ral disas­ter po­ten­tial roughly two decades ago, send­ing down a hail of movies about megas­torms ( Twister), su­per­vol­ca­noes ( Dante’s Peak), and earth­bound as­ter­oids ( Deep Im­pact, Ar­maged­don). Although the in­dus­try still ped­dles in weird weather ( Shark­nado 4), stu­dios seem to have turned their at­ten­tion to a new type of scary movie—the un­nat­u­ral disas­ter flick, which de­rives its shocks not from acts of God but from acts of bankers. Films in this cat­e­gory in­clude Mar­gin Call (2011), Too Big to Fail (2011), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Big Short (2015), and now Money Monster, which moves the nascent genre into its ado­les­cent, for­mu­laic phase.

Di­rected by two-time Os­car win­ner Jodie Fos­ter—whose most re­cent be­hindthe- cam­era cred­its in­clude episodes of Net­flix’s House of Cards and Or­ange Is the New Black—money Monster (in the­aters on May 13) presents a fa­mil­iar an­ti­hero in Lee Gates (Ge­orge Clooney), a bom­bas­tic Jim Cramer- es­que tele­vi­sion host. The self-pro­claimed wiz­ard of Wall Street, he’s a mouth­piece who in­flu­ences the mar­ket with smug claims that cer­tain stocks are “safer than a sav­ings ac­count.” But when one of Gates’s sure things, Ibis Clear Cap­i­tal, bot­toms out overnight, los­ing $800 mil­lion be­cause of what’s du­bi­ously de­scribed as a “com­puter glitch,” Gates is taken hostage on-air by 24-year- old de­liv­ery­man Kyle Bud­well (Bri­tish ac­tor Jack O’con­nell, chew­ing on a Brook­lyn ac­cent here to mixed ef­fect). Patty Fenn ( Ju­lia Roberts), Gates’s long­time pro­ducer, be­comes a de facto cri­sis ne­go­tia­tor, keep­ing Gates en­gaged with Bud­well, who’s lost his life sav­ings to the bum in­vest­ment, while fever­ishly track­ing Walt Camby ( Do­minic West), Ibis’s mys­te­ri­ously ab­sent chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer.

As the noose tight­ens on Gates and the crooked Camby, Money Monster man­ages to squeeze out a bit of gal­lows hu­mor: At one point, the TV host ap­peals to his au­di­ence to buy Ibis shares in an at­tempt to re­verse the dam­age and save him (“What’s a life worth to you?” he pleads, star­ing into the cam­era). On cue, the stock price springs to life—tick­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion. In one stan­dard movie gam­bit, the New York City Po­lice De­part­ment patches Bud­well’s preg­nant girl­friend through to the broad­cast to per­suade him to sur­ren­der; she in­stead re­veals that he cries dur­ing sex and should prob­a­bly do ev­ery­one a fa­vor and just kill him­self.

Like The Big Short, Money Monster oc­ca­sion­ally veers deep into the weeds of fi­nan­cial jar­gon— quan­ti­ta­tive an­a­lyt­ics, dark pools, high- fre­quency trad­ing—but the film­mak­ers wisely opt to em­brace the broad au­di­ence ap­peal of a fre­netic con­spir­acy thriller, be­gin­ning un­der the hot lights of a claus­tro­pho­bic TV stu­dio, spilling onto the streets of Man­hat­tan’s Fi­nan­cial Dis­trict, and cul­mi­nat­ing in a high- stakes con­fronta­tion be­tween Bud­well and Camby. Rem­i­nis­cent of the sym­pa­thetic hostage tak­ers played by Al Pa­cino in Dog Day Af­ter­noon and Den­zel Wash­ing­ton in John Q, Bud­well lives out many a Bernie sup­porter’s re­venge fan­tasy against a rigged sys­tem. As the char­ac­ter re­minds his cap­tives, “I might be the one with the gun here, but I’m not the real crim­i­nal.”

Stu­dios will gladly wring the fi­nan­cial cor­rup­tion sponge as they have with bib­li­cal floods and fire rain­ing from the sky, tweak­ing the de­tails as nec­es­sary. (Con­sider this sum­mer’s Eq­uity, star­ring Break­ing Bad’s Anna Gunn, which has been de­scribed as the first “fe­male-driven” film about Wall Street.) “They like how the math adds up, so they gotta keep rewrit­ing the equa­tion,” Bud­well says of the big banks’ any­thing- goes man­ner of keep­ing the odds and dol­lar signs for­ever in their fa­vor. Count Hol­ly­wood in. Greed is good, af­ter all. We learned that at the movies. <BW>

le p eo ke “Be your own farm team. If you don’t pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to grow, peo­ple leave.” “Ma

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.