Crushing a starry-eyed startup’s hopes and dreams can be a pain, but now you can outsource that emotional labour to a heartless AI instead. Because rejection doesn’t have to hurt…err, not you at least, I mean.
That’s the idea behind Unfortunately.io, an online tool that uses artificial intelligence to generate rejection emails. It’s the latest brainchild of Danielle Baskin, a San Francisco-based designer and artist whose works embody that deranged intersection endemic of online humour where one-off goofs and genuinely fantastic ideas blur into one. Her previous projects include Face ID-compatible face masks, an online graveyard for expired domain names, and Quarantine Chat, a call service co-created with fellow artist Max Hawkins that connects two random strangers over the phone and which made headlines last March as the world descended into coronavirus-related lockdown (and loneliness).
Baskin debuted Unfortunately via Twitter on Friday, explaining that she built the prototype after a conversation with its now-lead investor, Jack Dreifuss, who initially suggested the idea. It’s simple: You just copy and paste whatever rejection email Unfortunately spits out, filling in relevant information such as your name and that of the poor soul whose inbox this polite “no” is destined for, and bam, you’re done.
We took it for a test run, as you can see below. The randomised email we got really softens the blow by pointing downtrodden entrepreneurs toward [insert insightful Medium article here].
At the moment it can only generate emails for letting down startup ventures — ”If you’re an angel investor or a VC — let us handle the heavy work,” reads Unfortunately’s pitch. But the site promises that expanded formats tailored to rejecting candidates and movie/tv pitches are “coming soon.”
The site advertises a paid tier for $US25 ($33) per month or $US149 ($194) per year (which we assume is a joke but it’s always so hard to tell on the internet) that will customise the tone of your randomly generated rejection emails with “4 possible emotions,” as shown below, and incorporate OpenAI’s GPT-3 language model for “more nuance and detail.”
Unfortunately also encourages visitors to submit their own rejection letter anonymously to be used as part of the site’s dataset. And for anyone out there dealing with a particularly rough rejection right now, there’s the Unfortunately hotline where you can submit an anonymous memo unloading your troubles. “We’re here to listen,” Unfortunately’s site claims, but something tells me you should take that promise with a grain of salt. Just a hunch.