Google Duplex, The Phone Bot That Sounds Disconcertingly Human, Launches Next Month

Trends

October 12, 2018 | BY AFP

It sounds so natural that the person on the other side of the line won't know it's AI. And at the Pixel Event on Tuesday, Google announced that the technology will be rolled out next month

 
The Google Assistant's new AI function, Google Duplex

Phone rings.

"Hello, how can I help you?"

"Hi, I'm calling to book a woman's haircut for a client, um, I'm looking for something on May 3rd."

"Um."

As you can see in the introductory lines of a conversation recorded between the AI and a salon worker, the feature is capable of mimicking typical human language by placing space fillers like "um" or "mm-hmmm" in natural places to emulate task-oriented phone calls in real-time. Such technology may seem almost too human or unnervingly futuristic, but Google tells us that Pixel users will have the Google Duplex soon. 

Such tech requires deep training in the specific domains it will be used in, as described by the company last May. And if you weren't aware and actively looking for it, you may never know that you are speaking with a voice assistant. Luckily though, you won't be revealing any of your deep, dark secrets to a bot who is phoning in because, "it cannot carry out general conversations."

(Related: We Can Now Create “Virtual Humans”—Should We Be Worried?)

The first users to get this feature will be Pixel users in the US as announced by Brian Rakowski, VP of product management, at the Pixel Event—a release that Google is calling, "experimental." Duplex will be powering the Google Assistant of the new smartphones to help users complete "real world tasks over the phone" like booking a hair appointment or reserving a table at a restaurant like we saw earlier this year. The feature will first roll out in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay with the rest of the US following later.

Thankfully, the recipients of these AI-powered phone calls will not be completely in the dark when the feature is implemented this November. Google says that they'll, "disclose to businesses receiving the call that they're speaking to an automated system," and the company developed ways to protect these calls from spam or from businesses opting out of calls.

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If all goes according to Google's plan, you'll never have to schedule your dentist appointments again. Not only will your phone be as good as your computer, but as practical as a personal assistant.

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