Robot or Human? Google’s New AI Blurs the Lines

Google recently debuted Duplex at its I/O developer conference on May 8.

Their newest venture could use artificial intelligence (AI) to make virtual assistants with the same capabilities as humans, available to anyone.

Although AI’s continued march into our lives have made some uneasy, the reality is that AI is here and we should be ready to adapt to the convenience. Duplex could make lives incredibly easier by using data from the user – such as a specific haircut at a certain time, or booking a table for 4 on Wednesday  – and relay it using an automated voice to a human being, reacting and answering the questions of the recipient.

The voice is designed to sound completely natural, with the “ums” and “uhs” used to sound genuine, yet also used to cover up the fact that the AI is still processing the request. To show off its capabilities, CEO Sundar Pichai played two recordings of Google Assistant running Duplex. In each recording, the person picking up the phone didn’t seem to realize they were talking to a computer. Listen to those recordings here.

Although the recordings were revolutionary, there was no mention of how many failed tests were conducted before achieving these successful conversations. Pichai say he is in no rush to release the “developing” technology. “We want to get the user experience right for businesses and users. We’re going to work hard and get it right.”

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