How embarrassing it is when one types in “her” when the person is a “him,” or vice versa? To combat that, Gmail is removing gender pronouns from its Smart Compose feature that completes emails for people.
The move should prevent AI-driven gender-identity mistakes, according to reports. Gmail hopes to remove such bias from the email function.
Gmail noticed the problem in January when a research scientist was talking about a meeting with an investor, and Smart Compose came up with, “Do you want to meet him?”, according to Paul Lambert, Gmail product manager, Reuters reports.
Gender identity can be dicey when personalizing email marketing messages. If you don’t know much about the person and can’t place the first name or identity, AI could lead to politically incorrect gaffes.
In Gmail’s case, it is seeking to remove such mistakes at the individual level, and perhaps move in sync with changing consumer sentiment.
“Not all ‘screw ups’ are equal,” Lambert said to Reuters. Gender is a “a big, big thing” to get wrong, it adds.
Smart Compose is now used for 11% of messages worldwide, out of 1.5 billion Gmail users, Reuters continues.
The solution for writers and others who don’t want a machine to make decisions for them is to turn off Smart Compose.