Fast Company

Google, You Auto-Complete Me

I don’t like to say “hi.” I’m a “hey” person. But more and more, I find myself greeting friends and colleagues with a “hi” on email. Why? Because Google suggests that I do. In May, Gmail introduced a new “Smart Compose” feature that uses auto-complete technology to predict my next words in gray. I accept them simply by hitting TAB.

Words matter to me. I am a professional writer, after all. But then Gmail made it tantalizingly easy to say “hi” instead of “hey,” and Google’s prediction, albeit wrong at first, became self-fulfilling. It wasn’t until two weeks after I began using Smart Compose that I realized I had handed over a small part of my identity to an algorithm.

This sort of predictive technology is everywhere: Amazon suggests products aligned with your shopping history. Apple provides a special menu for the iOS apps you’re most likely to open next. Spotify tailors playlists to your musical tastes. And Facebook literally chooses the stories from

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Fast Company

Fast Company2 min read
The Last (Plastic) Straw
When Starbucks began developing a new nitrogen-infused cold-brew coffee back in 2016, it realized it had a problem. The allure of the drink was its creamy, frothy top (much like that of a Guinness), but the traditional way of consuming cold coffee—th
Fast Company12 min read
The Thawing Of Mcdonald’s
USING FRESH—NEVER FROZEN—BEEF IN ITS QUARTER POUNDERS IS JUST ONE PART OF A MASSIVE TRANSFORMATION THE COMPANY IS UNDERGOING IN THE FACE OF CHANGING CONSUMER TASTES AND COMPETITION. BUT IT’S DEFINITELY THE MOST COMPLICATED.
Fast Company3 min read
Sizing Up the Talent
From his late-’90s TV show Freaks and Geeks, which launched the careers of Seth Rogen and James Franco, to female-driven comedies such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy, which did the same for Melissa McCarthy, Paul Feig (pronounced Feeg) has demonst