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Google’s AI tools embrace the dream of Clippy

Clippy on ruled paper.
Microsoft’s Clippy sits atop its paper throne. | Image: Microsoft

The words “it looks like you’re writing a letter, would you like some help with that?” didn’t appear at any point during Google’s recent demo of its AI office suite tools. But as I watched Aparna Pappu, Google’s Workspace leader, outline the feature onstage at I/O, I was reminded of a certain animated paperclip that another tech giant once hoped would help usher in a new era of office work.

Even Microsoft would acknowledge that Clippy’s legacy is not wholly positive, but the virtual assistant is forever associated with a particular period of work — one packed to the brim with laborious emails, clip art, and beige computers with clunking hard drives. Now, work has changed — it’s Slack pings, text cursors jostling in a Google Doc, and…

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