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Gmail's Smart Compose won't suggest 'him' or 'her' anymore

Google dodges gender bias in an AI tool.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
Gmail symbol on a MacBook Pro screen.

Gmail may be getting antsy about personal pronouns.

StudioEast / Getty Images

Google doesn't want Gmail to predict someone's gender.

The email service's Smart Compose technology won't suggest gender-based pronouns because the risk of offending someone is too high, Google product leaders told Reuters.

Google's Paul Lambert said the change came about after a company research scientist typed "I am meeting an investor next week" and Smart Compose suggested "Do you want to meet him?" That default to the masculine pronoun was a dose of gender bias that the company wants to avoid in its AI tool.

The Smart Compose feature, which debuted in May, tries to guess what you're going to type and do it for you. It's based on the recipient, email subject and your typical writing habits. You can try it out by enabling it in your Settings menu.

Google has run into issues with its predictive tools before. In 2016 it removed Search autocomplete suggestions that showed the word "evil" at the end of phrases: "Are Jews..." and "Are women...".

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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