Google Assistant Can Hold Humanlike Convos With People And It's Terrifying

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Want to book a hair appointment but can’t find the time? Duplex has you covered

Do you ever wish you had someone to make appointments for you or book you into the newest, hottest restaurant in town on the slim chance you can find a babysitter and clean pants? Google just announced new technology that may be able to do just that.

Google’s Duplex technology, which was announced during their annual developers’ conference this week, demonstrated an AI (artificial intelligence) mimicking a human voice to make phone calls on your behalf. Initially, Duplex will be able to do things like make restaurant reservations, schedule appointments, and find out business hours for a company. Basically, it enables you to get information that isn’t on the internet, and it’s really quite something to watch.

Umm, that was both awesome and totally creepy at the same time. Of course Twitter had something to say:

For those of you who don’t know what artificial intelligence is, it’s simply intelligence demonstrated by machines (usually computers), in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals. And while it’s pretty cool that we’re living in a time where advances in technology are happening so quickly, I’m not sure I’m ready to be talking to a computer thinking it’s an actual human.

I mean, it has actual conversations with real life people. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to find a moment of peace and quiet with three kids following me around all day demanding phone time and one more piece of cinnamon toast, so it would be nice to outsource things like making an doctor’s appointment or finding out if the waterpark’s open so we can all get out of the goddamn house for once.

But still. It’s undeniably creepy AF.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai noted that they built the technology to make it easier for people to connect “with the 60 percent of small businesses in the US that still don’t have online booking systems.” And it is an obvious upgrade from some of the AI automated systems we must endure to get to an actual live person when making airline reservations or calling the credit card company.

Obviously, the benefits for people with hearing difficulties and other special needs are obvious, but Duplex can also help with language barriers if you don’t speak the local language, according to Tech Radar. It’s also asynchronous, meaning you can make a request to Duplex, then go offline and it will update you when you get back online.

Still, it seems like there should be some head’s up that you’re talking to a computer instead of a live person. I mean, their AI has all the nuances of human language but it still isn’t an actual human. Though I’d maybe consider using Duplex to handle phone calls with my mother: “Yes, mom. I know, mom. You’re right, mom. I’ll take that into consideration, mom.”

Google will start testing the feature in a public beta via Google Assistant this summer, but an exact release when it will be available has yet to be announced.

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