Google’s Duplex arrives next month

Google Duplex was first seen in action this past May sounding disconcertingly human as it placed a hair appointment and reserved a seat at a restaurant. In fact, the conversation was so natural that the worker on the other side of the line didn't know they were speaking to AI. At the Pixel Event on Oct 9, Google announced that the technology will be coming to our lives next month. 

*Phone rings.* 

“Hello, how can I help you?” 

“Hi, I'm calling to book a woman's haircut for a client, um, I'm looking for something on May 3rd.” 


As you can see in the introductory lines of a conversation recorded between the AI and a salon worker, the feature is capable of mimicking typical human language by placing space fillers like “um” or “mm-hmmm” in natural places to emulate task-oriented phone calls in real-time. Such technology may seem almost too human or unnervingly futuristic, but Google tells us that Pixel users will have the Google Duplex later this year. 

Such tech requires deep training in the specific domains it will be used in, as described by the company last May. And if you weren't aware and actively looking for it, you may never know that you are speaking with a voice assistant. Luckily though, you won't be revealing any of your deep, dark secrets to a bot who is phoning in because, “it cannot carry out general conversations”. 


The first users to get this feature will be Pixel users in the US as announced by Brian Rakowski, VP of product management, at the Pixel Event – a release that Google is calling, “experimental”. 

Duplex will be powering the Google Assistant of the new smartphones to help users complete “real world tasks over the phone” like booking a hair appointment or reserving a table at a restaurant like we saw earlier this year. The feature will first roll out in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the San Francisco Bay with the rest of the US following later. 

Thankfully, the recipients of these AI powered phone calls will not be completely in the dark when the feature is implemented this November. Google says that they'll “disclose to businesses receiving the call that they're speaking to an automated system”, and the company developed ways to protect these calls from spam or from businesses opting out of calls. 

If all goes according to Google's plan, you'll never have to schedule your dentist appointments again. Not only will your phone be as good as your computer, but as practical as a personal assistant. – AFP Relaxnews


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