Google Duplex demonstrates that the future of artificial intelligence just got a little brighter or frightening, depending on how an individual views the technology.
During Google's I/O keynote, the company showcased several innovations and products in store for the future. A particular segment of the keynote that notably drew a lot of attention was the announcement of a new feature for its Google Assistant platform.
Sundar Pichai, the company CEO, took center stage to demo its latest innovation on voice-based services. What the audience heard was a conversation between the AI-driven voice service and an employee of a business that it called in behalf of the user.
Most agree that unlike the regular speech patterns, which are commonly associated with voice assistants, the new one is difficult to differentiate from a real human speaker.
Hearing Is Believing
The CEO did his best to elaborate the nuances of Google Duplex, which visibly got the audience interested. It was shortly followed by two recorded calls, which the company claims were made by the new voice service. The demonstration showcases the digital assistant's new capabilities as it continues to improve and possibly replace human workers in the future.
A female voice that was used for the first call as Duplex contacted a hair salon to set an appointment. What transpired eerily sounded like a conversation between two human speakers. After a brief talk, the AI successfully booked an appointment for the user without any problems.
Meanwhile, the second call used a male voice to place a call to a local restaurant to make a reservation. Just like the first one, the call went smoothly just like a real-world conversation between a customer and an employee.
Pichai acknowledges that everything is far from perfect and revealed that some of the calls the AI made did not go according to plan.
Purpose And Features
As the Google I/O keynote demo illustrated, Duplex is service that works in tandem with Assistant to place calls for the user. The calls are reportedly not made via the owner's smartphone but via Google's back-end system. Once the system completes the call and confirms that everything was set properly, the user will receive a prompt on their smartphone and a reminder will be set automatically.
Another interesting feature added to Google Assistant is called Pretty Please. Once enabled, users are required to say the magic word each time they ask a question or request something from voice assistant. This seems like an interesting approach to still encourage politeness during a conversation.