Remember Elon Musk‘s ominous warning about artificial intelligence bringing about humanity’s doom? While we are probably still far, far away from AI-mageddon, our lives, at least our digital ones, are increasingly becoming dependent on AI in one form or another, from the machine learning buried deep beneath search engines, to the more visible, or rather audible, manifestations in Google Now and Siri. Now, there’s one more to join that group. Less.Mail is a new app that uses artificial intelligence to let you accept appointments or cancel dates.
AI-controlled email might worry some and bring up thoughts of embarrassing love notes sent to your dad instead of your boyfriend, but Less.Mail is actually less invasive than that. It doesn’t really do anything without your consent and your consent comes through voice controls. In a sense, it’s like Google Now or Siri, except it has been trained to react and respond to emails. There is also a bit of smartness involved, but bulk of it is dedicated to understanding your commands, which are in plain English, and transforming them into actions and replies.
Robin Labs, who gained the tech world’s attention late last year when one of its experiments was mistakenly leaked as Yahoo‘s Siri killer, believes that 80 percent of our emails are made up of routine replies to engagements, appointments, dates, follow-ups and the like. Productivity experts might immediately see some reference here to the popular Pareto Principle. Less.Mail does perform that 20% of the job required by freeing your hands and your mind from mundane tasks and handling the replies itself.
The video below shows the uses for Less.Mail and, in all honesty, they are quite limited, enough to reassure us that we’re not yet approaching AI-pocalypse. It dictates an email, ones that require yes or no answers, though not exactly verbatim. The user can speak out his confirmation or rejection and Less.Mail will know exactly which response to use. You can even instruct it to be polite about it. Though not shown here, users will also be able to dictate their replies in case they don’t want to send a canned response.
The question now is whether users, today or tomorrow, will want to use such voice-controlled systems. Fancy and entertaining as they are, the likes of Sir and Google Now have not yet reached the point where they become part and parcel of our lives. The fact that they aren’t as accurate as our fingers also contribute to some of the reluctance. Of course, that shouldn’t be reason for the likes of Robin Labs to stop their research efforts, as those will be the foundations that future technologies will stand on. Less.Mail is currently available as an invite-only test for Android devices. iOS might be on the table in the future, but considering it’s still experimental, that might take quite a while.