Google’s Bard not have become as popular as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, but the company’s distribution heft could soon put its AI offerings into the mainstream.
Google is testing a “Help me write” button on Gmail, reports Wharton professor Ethan Mollick. The button seems currently available only for beta testers, and shows up in the Compose section on the email. Users can simply enter a brief prompt of how they’d like to compose the email, and Google — presumably powered by Palm-2, which also powers Bard — instantly crafts a message.
In screenshots shared by Mollick on Twitter, Gmail appears to show a “Help me write” box with the same magic wand symbol on the left, the same symbol as it uses for Bard. A text box allows users to fill in a prompt as to how they’d like the email to be composed. Mollick chose to put in “reply to the message and offer advice,” as his prompt, and Google seemed to write a whole email.
The email sounded perfectly professional, and recommended a one-on-one meeting to help improve the subject’s performance. The email also encouraged the sender to be open to hearing the other side, and work constructively together.
Now given how Bard — and even ChatGPT — have performed over the last few months, it’s unlikely that LLMs can currently write flawless emails that need no human intervention. But what this product could do is help craft a great initial draft, which the user can then improve and iterate on. The AI can add much of the structure of the response, and humans can then fill in and improve on the details.
This could unleash a productivity gain across industries which might be quite significant — countless millions of hours are spent drafting emails around the world, and if AI can take care of some of the heavy lifting, it could save humans lots of time which can be employed in more productive endeavours. These professionally-written emails could also help level the playing field between good writers and those who’re not quite as good — AI will likely be able to draft perfect emails, and help those who don’t have the best written skills or aren’t writing the emails in their native language could stand to benefit.
This Help me write” feature in Gmail best indicates how while ChatGPT might’ve stolen the initial thunder in the LLM race, Google’s enormous distribution might end up giving it the last laugh. Users of the future might have a choice of draft an email on ChatGPT, copy it, and then paste it into Gmail, or they could simply tap a button in Gmail and get it done. By most accounts, GPT-4 handily beats Bard on standardized benchmarks, but Google’s vast suite of products could help push their AI products in the mainstream — and eventually pip OpenAI in the long run.