Computer says: ‘Yes, sir!’ – Scientists invent way to make rude emails a thing of the past

Updated: July 10, 2020

SCIENTISTS have invented the world’s politest computer – and it can turn even the rudest email from a nasty boss into a kindly message.

Researchers in the USA devised a program that removes impolite language from electronic messages and replaces it with friendly words and phrases.

We all know that sinking feeling when a curt message drops into our inbox. Not only does it lave you seething, but it can ruin your day.

Well not anymore. For example, an email that was originally worded as “Get me the f***ing data” would be converted to eventually read: “Could you please send me the data?”

The new ‘politeness transfer’ system for emails, chart-bots and blogs was developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA.

“It’s not just about using words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Sometimes, it means making language a bit less direct, so that instead of saying ‘You should do X,’ the sentence becomes something like ‘Let us do X.'” said Ph.D student Shrimai Prabhumoye at the University.

Here at The Cheerful Times it reminds us of those funny Little Britain sketches in which the computer rudely always ‘says no’ (see YouTube clip below).

The original emails used by the scientists for research were derived from public domain messages from employees of Enron, the former Texas energy company that was better known for fraud than civility.

The researchers will presented their study on politeness transfer at the Association for Computational Linguistics annual meeting in 2020. If you want all the heavyweight details check out the Science Daily website.

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