You’re Becoming a Bot

Alex Mitchell
4 min readDec 5, 2018


And you don’t even know it…

You think that’s a human email response you’re reading?

Several years ago, chatbots started gaining popularity in the media and chatbot-driven technology companies were all the rage (TechCrunch). The chatbot trend never fully materialized as the NLP technology simply wasn’t there yet.

However, a very interesting follow-on trend is happening now: You are becoming a bot and you don’t even know it.

3 very significant technologies have launched over the past year and have begun to remove some of the most mundane, but also the most human, parts of digital communication.

3 Technologies That Are Turning You Into a Bot

  1. Google Smart Replies

Google Smart Replies are brilliant. Gmail processes the content of your message and offers you three “message starters” that are often very accurate.

According to Google, 10% of all messages sent on Gmail are Smart Replies. That’s over 6.7 billion smart replies per day! (Mashable)

2. LinkedIn Smart Replies

LinkedIn’s Smart Replies are very similar in functionality to Gmail’s Smart Replies. LinkedIn provides you 3 often-accurate options to reply to that persistent recruiter contacting you about a position that is *kind of* related to what you do.

3. Gmail Smart Compose (aka Autocomplete)

In 2008, Google released a search feature that was so simple, but so smart: autocomplete. Now a standard for any search or form on the the web, Google has taken it a step further by bringing sentence autocomplete into Gmail. Gmail calls it Smart Compose.

After you’ve begun typing the beginning of a sentence in Gmail, Google will “guess” at the rest of the sentence. It provides that finished sentence in grey text and allows the user to accept that suggestion by simply hitting TAB.

The suggestions make typing faster, but also steer the user into using machine-driven language instead of the (possibly) more creative sentence structure they were planning on typing.

What Happens Next?

If you’ve used these features, you are!

Given the rapid adoption of these time saving technologies by consumers, we’re not far away from “conversations” that aren’t really conversations at all.

Data models will suggest an entire email based on who you’ve entered in the To: field and (possibly) the subject you’ve chosen, although that could probably even be inferred based on past conversations.

That email will be sent to a recipient who will (possibly) see it and choose a pre-programmed response. They may have even automated their responses completely for emails from a selected group of senders, trusting the algorithms to do a good enough job.

Think of it as an assistant you don’t have to pay.

Then the original sender’s follow up email will be automated, keeping this machine-driven conversation loop going as long as it takes to reach some sort of endgame.

Hopefully you are understanding clearly now: This is a weird world we are moving towards with breakneck speed.

We will have removed humans from the equation completely.

Is that necessarily a bad thing for the more mundane parts of email communication?

How Do You Feel About Becoming a Bot?

Let me know on Twitter at @amitch5903!

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Alex Mitchell

Product @Kinsured | 5x Product Leader/Founder | Syndicate: | Author: @producthandbook @disruptbook