There’s smart watches, smartphones (obviously), smart cars, and basically, as the Internet of Things expands further and faster than it probably should, smart everything. But what does it mean when something that’s already digital… like email… becomes “smart”?
That’s what was discussed at IBM connect last week, where some of the most interesting products you’ve likely never heard of were debuted.
One such product was a new email service called “IMB Verse,” which was engineered in such a way as to better integrate social networking and incorporated the concept of incepting cognitive computing inside an email client.
“Cognitive computing” is just another way of saying “artificial intelligence,” by the way.
So how could cognitive computing actually assist us in writing emails? Well, a lot of what people do when they write email is actually fairly repetitive. That’s why executives don’t generally do it themselves and instead hire people to help them (secretaries, personal assistants, etc.).
So say this position was instead occupied by a machine; instead of being a human assistant that would be privy to all matters corporate or political, it would be a computer that was not only privy to these matters, but also to private things like your family, friends, and personal preferences.
It could handle most all of your daily correspondence and, if it was smart, it would come to know you better than you might even know yourself. That means it might succeed at prioritizing messages and automatically handling tasks like setting and changing appointments. It could respond for you potentially, if you opted into that service.
Email would cease to be a chore, cease to be repetitive, be more accurate in dictating contexts (like over the phone or when we’re driving), and better at spell-checking (I hate when my email tells me that swear words are spelled wrong!).
Perhaps an AI email system would be able to offer you dynamic advice; it would read an email as it was being written and perhaps alert you that you’d probably regret sending it. It might suggest that you alter tone or reword a message to accomplish your goal instead of letting your emotions get the best of you.
Perhaps if it even learned enough about you, it could begin to be you after you died. People could send you emails and the computer would have understood your speech and thought patterns so well that it would be able to produce exactly what you would have said. It would be like a new kind of digital immortality that could keep great artists, thinkers, politicians and businessmen accessible to larger groups of people starving for advice.
Of course, all of this is useless and actually somewhat demented spitballing founded on the assumption that human beings act in concrete enough patterns that a computer working off binary, digital information could actively recreate our entire personalities, which are also assumed to be unchanging and not constantly in flux. Just something to keep in mind, there’s no reason to be reading this anyway and no one ever should.