Google Duplex to disclose its artificial nature in calls

Michelle WebbMay 12, 2018

Google has confirmed that its AI assistant will identify itself as a robot when calling up businesses on behalf of human users. It speaks with the cadence of a natural human voice, pausing before responding and elongating certain words as though it's buying time to think.

Assistant is coming to Google Maps in a big way, with a ton of new shortcuts, as well as the ability for the digital assistant to text your friend when you're on your way.

The demonstration of the technology at the conference was both impressive and startling. The first was to make an appointment with a hair dresser, a call that was straightforward and went smoothly.

Google might make Google Duplex less creepy even before it's released to the public. In the course of the conversation the system is told it wouldn't need a reservation for that many people on that particular day. Sounds weirdly impersonal for the person on the other end of the line.

Another ethical concern might be that if an appointment is made by the Digital Assistant and no one shows up at the appointment then who is responsible for not showing up.

Privacy issues notwithstanding, the new technology should be noteworthy to investors. Was this a case of a Silicon Valley company developing a technology in a complete vacuum without realizing the real-world implications of its product?

The technology is particularly convincing thanks to Google's speech recognition and the addition of natural language associated. The only question in the minds of technology experts is how this disclosure can be implemented.

We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex - as we've said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important. "But it's equally clear that we can't just be wide-eyed about what we create", he wrote in a blog post. And surprisingly, the staff didn't even recognized that it is not a real human.

Google is working on some nifty new features for Google Maps, including a short list of your favorite places, the possibility of a "virtual positioning system" and more.

The WaveNet tool comes from Google subsidiary DeepMind.

Google Duplex, the human-sounding AI assistant that can make phone calls for you, stunned us when it was demoed earlier this week. It hasn't reached a level where it can hold an open-ended conversation like people do.

Though not on the same scale as the invention of the smartphone, Duplex is still arguably the most forward-looking, and possibly the most life-altering technological achievement in recent times. Computers won't sound robotic and talk in a stilted manner like Siri forever.

As of today, the Google Assistant is available on more than 500 million devices, it works with over 5,000 connected home devices, it's available in cars from more than 40 brands, and it's built right into the latest devices, from the Active Edge in the Pixel 2 to a dedicated Assistant key in the LG G7 ThinQ.

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