A Gmail plugin to do "emotional labor"

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/17/a-gmail-plugin-to-do-emotion.html


Using robots to add emotional flourishes to human communication…


Uggh… I would prefer to have a plugin that does the opposite. I would like to have a plugin that strips out all the meaningless drivel and just gives me the point of the e-mail, so I can spend take less time reading e-mails.


Ok, this seems creepy, and honestly it is creepy. But it could be very useful. I have trouble connecting with humans in general. A tool that would analyze the emotional tone of my outgoing mails might actually be useful. Then it could warn me when I’m coming off as cold or distant. Come to think of it, a tool that would analyze the emotional tone of incoming emails would be useful as well, because I tend to miss a lot of those cues.


You would trust software that makes you cuter by adding, “hey Lovely?”


I’m not sure if I like this particular plugin, but there are some other tools in this arena that are getting better and better.

FoxType can help you reword your writing, with hints for things like politeness, sentiment, formality, and assertiveness.

Perhaps someday, we’ll have tools that handle all of the communication for us. And our tools will talk only to people who also have tools to handle all of their communication. We can build a world of robots that speak to each other, blissfully exchanging polite niceties, because they’ve learned to do so from watching us.

This sounds disconcerting, but I think there is a sweet spot of creepy utilitarianism in there somewhere. After all, why should I spend three hours on hold with my insurance company, listing to scratchy music punctuated by robotic upsells, when I can have my robot do that instead?


This is meant as a joke, right?

How is work going otherwise?
…? I usually get out of work at 6 or 7…


How is that’s lovely going otherwise
…? I usually get out of lol at 6 or 7 …


most people find talking to their friends to be recreation not labor. maybe there could be an extension to help your friends find better friends?


The day I find myself faking liking my friends so much I refer to it as ‘labor’ is the day I set myself on fire.

Though, I see the market for a plugin that detects the use of one of these and flags those people as best avoided.


Who knew that adding lots of extra exclamation points made me a more approachable, likable, correspondent.

I guess, lovey, I’ll just have to start using them more!!!


“Emotional labor” (at least judging by all the places I’ve seen the term crop up); seems to be most commonly identified in situations where a significant(but often unstated or heavily elided) part of the job involves emulating affective signals in order to please customers; with some discussions also covering various more or less involuntary and sustained demands to present a particular front(eg. the classic ‘random passerby demanding that women smile in public’).

If you are doing it for your ‘friends’ you either have really sucky friends; or friends with some sort of dramatic compensatory virtues who need an ultimatum about being less unhelpful.

If it is part of a job, just walking away is more problematic.

That said, while this doesn’t make the job more pleasant for them; more than a few people who do ‘emotional labor’ via email are…not necessarily…people we want equipped with better expert systems. PR flacks, say, are often identified as emotional laborers; but improving their efficiency is not really what the world needs


While I would certainly prefer to be able to pit my expert systems against theirs, rather than beat my own head against the wall; but that sort of situation strikes me as a deeply perverse arms race: if you have an expert system capable of wasting vast amounts of my time in the course of providing ‘service’; and I have one capable of fighting the battle of attrition necessary to receive that ‘service’, it sounds like we have a problem that our respective bots could hammer out in a matter of seconds(depending on latency) if they were actually seeking a solution.

This doesn’t mean that I would hesitate to deploy a bot in such a situation, if one is available; but wherever possible I’d prefer that their bot just skip the bullshit and be helpful(a few years back, this particular debate seems to have played out behind the scenes in airline ticketing/check-in kiosk systems: some people were drinking the kook-aid on “agents”, hideous hybrids of Clippy and the low-rent talk show hosts of the uncanny valley, that were supposed to make interacting with a computer feel more ‘personal’ or some nonsense. The sane, decent, faction went with systems that skipped pretending to be helpful; and just allowed you to verify times/gates/etc. make a seat selection, and be on your way.)


Definitely not this specific piece of software. I don’t want something that makes me sound like a stooge. But I don’t think the idea is totally meritless if it were well and responsible implemented. It wont be though, this sort of tech will become a mere tool of capitalism. Probably in marketing.


Hey, I’ve been thinking of you!!! :slight_smile:

Setting you on fire sounds lovely!

How is work going otherwise?




Thank you.


This is the thing for me, regarding AI or some other software offering writing advice. The devil in the machine and the details is, who’s programming the advisor? Why have they set [the rules] thusly? Why not set [the rules] this other way? We’re waking up to the realization that software is great, but software that gives advice has to have some foundational ruleset, and that ruleset was likely built by a dude. His prejudices, fears, joys, etc., and that’s not bad, but software is not the perfect, rational and bias-less being it’s often sold to be.

Also, the computers tell me I write like shit SO FUCK YOU COMPUTERS YOUR* NOT THE BOSS OF ME

takes ball and goes home

*wink wink nudge nudge take that computer fuckers


This is what that tadpole256’s comment reads like run through such a filter. “to have a plugin that does the opposite. Less time reading e-mails” I actually kind of like it. Sorta poetic.


What’s that “Thank you” for? Useless sentiment!


Why not cut out the middleman? Rather than adding the niceties itself, we could just implement X-Meaningless-Pleasantries in the headers, and let the recipient’s client add them.

Dozens of bytes per message saved.


An add on that removed all that would be more helpful.