Google Blocks Spam Using AI Tools - InformationWeek

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7/10/2015
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Google Blocks Spam Using AI Tools

Google taps its AI advancements, including neural networks, to help Gmail combat spam and block malicious email.

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Google champions its own antispam powers. The company claims that less than .1% percent of email in the average Gmail inbox is spam, and that the amount of wanted mail landing in the spam folder is even lower, at less than .05%. Still, that hasn't stopped the company from fine-tuning its artificial intelligence (AI) tools to stop spam.

The company revealed some of the new ways it is supporting the senders of wanted mail, including the launch of Gmail Postmaster Tools. It's also using the latest Google smarts to filter out spam

These tools help qualified high-volume senders to analyze their email by showing data on delivery errors, spam reports, and reputation, so they can diagnose any hiccups, study best practices, and help the company's mail app route messages to the right inbox.

"Gmail users get lots of important email from companies like banks and airlines—from monthly statements to ticket receipts -- but sometimes these wanted messages are mistakenly classified as spam," Sri Harsha Somanchi, Google's product manager for Gmail, wrote in a blog post. "When this happens, you might have to wade through your spam folder to find that one important email (yuck!). We can help senders to do better."

(Image: alengo/iStockphoto)

(Image: alengo/iStockphoto)

In addition to the Postmaster Tools, the company also unveiled improved intelligence developed for the company's Search and Now applications to make the spam filter smarter in a number of ways.

Advances in machine learning mean the spam filter can now reflect individual preferences, so that users who love weekly newsletters aren't confused with those who loathe them.

On an even more sophisticated level, the spam filter now uses an artificial neural network -- the same AI technology that's been blowing minds with reconfigured classic works of art -- to detect and block the sneaky spam that could pass for wanted mail.

The overall notion of machine learning and AI has been making a lot of news lately, while some notable visionaries, including Bill Gates, harbor doubts. Others have praised the technology's potential for creating jobs.

[Apple has high expectations for its next device. See Apple's New iPhone Order Will Be Massive.]

Anyway, back to the more mundane challenges of cleaning up a Gmail inbox. Google is also deploying new machine learning signals that help the application figure out whether a message actually came from its sender and keep bogus email at bay -- things that could help stamp out insidious phishing scams.

Unwanted or useless email continues to be a major problem for many US businesses and their employees -- the biggest hindrance to everyday email use, according to 45% of those surveyed in a June GFI report, is spam.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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