AI that will write email replies is here

Artificial intelligence is all the rage at the moment. The rise of AI tools and services to generate images and video from text prompts or by analysing other images, and engage in actual conversation with an AI chatbot, resets your belief in what such simulated intelligence can do producing highly sophisticated results compared to what you’ve experienced or known about before.

It’s led to a huge wave of AI-generated content flooding the Internet and the mainstream media to the extent that, in just a few weeks, almost anyone you know has experimented somewhere and created an artificial work.

A few days ago I discovered Ellie, an email AI assistant that “learns from your writing style and crafts replies as if they were written by you.”

As someone who typically ignores the email inbox except for content I deem as worth attention, I decided to give this a shot and my first effort is illustrated in the screenshot you see at the top. This reply to a marketing email I received was entirely written by Ellie.

Is it in my writing style? Well, not yet but it’s good enough that I sent it.

The AI behind Ellie is GPT-3 from OpenAI, the same people who created DALL-E and ChatGPT, two of the most popular AI tools at the moment.

Why did the developers, Danielle and James, create it? They say:

We think that there is a power imbalance in email. Although its one of the most useful inventions of all time, as a single email user, you have no control over who can email you, or what they can put in front of you to briefly grab your attention.

There’s almost no penalty for sending mass-emails to as many people as possible, most of which are a complete waste of time and energy.

At least by using Ellie we can claw a small amount of power back, by automating our replies to these automated emails, so that they can no longer monopolise our time.

Ellie’s very much an experiment right now and is in public beta testing. Currently you can get it as an extension for the Chrome browser and it works only with Gmail. It’s free to test for now although you can sign up at an early bird price for just $20 that gets you beyond the daily limit of five email replies.

Why not give it a whirl? I can see a bright future for an intelligent assistant that removes the tedium of manually replying to emails, especially those you really don’t want to (and to some you know you probably ought to).