At Google I/O in May, the company demonstrated what was both one of the coolest and most controversial future aspects of Google Assistant. Using a human sounding voice, referred to as Duplex, Assistant placed a phone call on the users behalf to set an appointment. The reaction to this has ranged from it being fake all the way around to this being the first indicator of the rise of the machines against humanity. But the fact is that the technology is there and Google’s AI technology is stunningly powerful. And it won’t be long before you get to try it yourself.
Google today published a video on their YouTube channel that highlights how Assistant will be able to get things done for you like setting up an appointment or reservation without you having to make the call yourself. Take a look at the video.
While we are months away from having this smooth of an interaction, the basic building blocks are there now and public testing has begun.
Using a small group of testers and businesses, testing of Duplex will begin in the next few weeks. The idea is to give the Duplex AI and Google Assistant data for it to learn and for it to actually work the way you see it in the video above. The testing will start by having Duplex call businesses to confirm business hours. Later this summer, people will be able to start booking reservations at restaurants and hair salons.
As you can imagine, Duplex has raised some significant ethical questions which Google has tried to address. For example, in the demo back at I/O, there was no indicator from Duplex that the voice was AI, not a human. That, as you can hear in this video, is corrected. So too is the notification that the call is being recorded.
Personally, I cannot wait to try this out. The implications are significant for sure but the automation of more mundane tasks in life would be welcome.