The internet was outraged and amazed at the capabilities of Google's new artificial intelligence system Duplex. Reports are now showing that the outrage may have been in vain since Google is skirting questions about the AI system and how it was able to have conversations with humans.
Google really made people question if advancements in artificial intelligence have gone too far.
Possible Google Duplex Dupe
Questions first arose about the AI demonstration on May 17, and Axios raises concerns about the nature of the demonstration. It ran a small investigation into whether or not the call could be falsified. In the demonstration by Google, the businesses didn't give the name of the establishment that Google Duplex was calling.
When Axios called over two dozen hair salons and restaurants, each one gave the name of the business. The background of the businesses was also creating a large amount of ambient noise that was lacking in the recording provided by Google at Duplex's demonstration.
Axios tried to ask Google for the name of the establishment to find out if it existed, but Google refused to give it to them. The company wouldn't say if the calls were edited in any way to prevent information about the businesses to be released.
Vanity Fair raises another point about the conversation, California is a two-party consent state where the consent of both parties is needed to record a phone conversation legally. In order to record the call, did Google need to notify the establishments that it was calling, or was the call staged in order to show off Duplex?
Others took the work a step further. Google Duplex lead Yaniv Leviathan and engineering manager Matan Kalman posted a picture where they shared a meal that was booked through Google Duplex. Using the picture, a Twitter user was able to find out the restaurant was Hongs Gourmet in Saratoga, California. Hongs Gourmet hasn't answered any questions about the Duplex call.
When the demonstration occurred, people were left amazed than scared about the potential for AI to trick humans. Google chief Sundar Pichai said that Google Duplex will identify itself as an AI-driven service when it is working in order to avoid any confusion.
This also adds concerns to the fears of automation coming faster than previously thought. There are also worries that the AI becoming too human-like creates distrust. People wouldn't be able to tell if they're talking to a machine or a human.