Gmail's "Smart Compose" feature is terrible at helping freelancers negotiate

I'm a musician. I'm Irish-American, and play Irish music (among other things). And I live in Boston. Naturally, St. Patrick's Day presents me with some potentially lucrative opportunities.

Unfortunately, Gmail is not a very good negotiator:

In case you can't quite tell what's going on in this screenshot: someone asked how much money I wanted in exchange for providing music. Google's "Smart Compose" feature recommended three possible responses I might want give — the first of which was "Free!"

For all the concerns that people might have about machines stealing our jobs, I certainly never expected them to try and trick me into giving my labor away for free as well.

According to Gmail, Smart Compose is "powered by machine learning and will offer suggestions as you type." While I don't typically use the responses that it recommends, the suggestions usually aren't that bad. I have occasionally found them helpful for quick, short responses. I even let Google try its personalization feature on me, which means it should be giving me suggestions that "are tailored to the way [I] normally write, to maintain [my] writing style." In other words, this machine learning mechanism should be based at least somewhat on the actual emails that I send.

But I can assure you: I have never received an email about money or a freelance job of any kind and then immediately replied with, "Free!" (For what it's worth, I have almost certainly answered with "What's your budget?")

Anyway, if you should find yourself in the Boston area on St. Read the rest

The weird(er) US-North Korea summit that ended with 4.5 hours of silent staring

In 1969, United Nations Command negotiator and US Maj. Gen. James B. Kapp and North Korean Maj. Gen. Ri Choon-Sun sat across the table from one another for 11.5 hours without eating or using the restroom. The delegates were only permitted to leave the room if the person who called the meeting proposes a recess. Ri never did. In fact, the two men spent the last 4.5 hours of the meeting silently staring at one another. At 10:30pm, Ri stood up and walked out.

During the meeting, Knapp had asked Ri for North Korea to begin a four-step process to calm tensions in the region.

The infamous meeting was featured in Jeffrey Z Rubin and Bert R. Brown's book "The Social Psychology of Bargaining and Negotiation" which sounds like a rather useful read.

"A long, awkward silence" (Weird Universe) Read the rest