YouTube Will Let AI Suggest Replies to Video Comments

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Google announced Wednesday that it had implemented its SmartReply system for YouTube creators, which will give those users access to suggested replies based on what someone has commented. Unlike the SmartReply system Google currently uses for Gmail, SmartReply on YouTube required some further tweaking because of the way people us language on that platform compared to email – it will even auto-suggest emojis.

“In comparison to emails, which tend to be long and dominated by formal language, YouTube comments reveal complex patterns of language switching, abbreviated words, slang, inconsistent usage of punctuation, and heavy utilisation of emoji,” said Google in its blog post about the feature.

The blog goes into a lot more technical detail about how Google changed SmartReply for YouTube, but basically, the previous system was only written for a small number of languages and genres of writing. That obviously wasn’t all that compatible with how language is used in the YouTube comments section, which has a syntax and culture all its own. So, instead of using a word-level pre-processing technique, YouTube’s SmartReply uses a single cross-lingual model for all supported languages, which includes emojis, ASCII art, and language switching.

So for example, if someone comments with a heart emoji, YouTube’s SmartReply could auto-suggest another heart in response. Or, if someone makes a negative comment, SmartReply could auto-suggest a helpful response. Some switching between English and Spanish in the comments? Yup, the AI algorithm has something up its sleeves for that, too.

Here’s what it looks like:

 

However, according to The Next Web, the tool will only work with comments SmartReply thinks creators are likely to engage with, so maybe it won’t actually come up with a witty retort to internet trolls invading the comments. (Shame.) But if a creator does reply back to negative comments often, it’s possible that it will as well.

The most immediate benefit to SmartReply, as I have benefited from myself when responding to emails, is the amount of time it saves. Sure, typing out “thanks” doesn’t take that long, but it’s still faster to click a button and have the word appear without having to put too much thought into it. When you have many emails to sort through in a day, anything to help save time is a godsend. The same concept applies for YouTube creators, who go through hundreds of comments on a single video. Anything that helps them responds faster seems pretty handy.

Currently, the updated SmartReply feature for YouTube is focused on English and Spanish, but Google plans to add more languages to its AI algorithm in the future.

Featured image:  Robyn Beck/AFP (Getty Images)

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