Stunning Demo of Assistant: Is Google Duplex the Next Disruptive Technology?

For a long time, Apple held the title for its innovations.  However, nothing in particular really stood out to me from this year’s 2018 WWDC Keynote event.  Interestingly, I recently came across a demo of Google’s AI Assistant called, Google Duplex.  The technology is smart enough to handle simple tasks, like booking an appointment.  I was definitely impressed by the demo.

Take a listen:

I’m not at all surprised by progress with the technology, given the success of voice assistant  like ‘Siri’ or ‘Hey Google’.  Rather, I am surprised by how the technology is smart enough to pick up the nuances of a conversation.  I am also surprised that the designers included human speech disfluency (i.e. “uh huh”) to make it more human sounding.  I haven’t decided if that’s smart or just plain creepy!

Some additional thoughts aside from the wow factor of the demo:

1. Ethical Bounds:  Disclosure

The first thing I noticed from the demo was a lack of disclosure that the caller is speaking to a bot. Fortunately, it appears that a disclosure is included based on this reporter’s test demo.

I received a few human sounding “bot” calls this year, but I quickly figured it out I wasn’t speaking to a human when the “caller” couldn’t deviate from the script.  I found it creepy.  And annoying.  I’d want to know if I’m talking to a bot if I’m going to be on the other end of a call.

2. Duplex Handles Simple Tasks (Initially)

The AI assistant is designed to handle simple tasks.  Things like “booking restaurant reservations, haircut appointments, and answering inquiries about business hours.”  I think these simple tasks are just the tip of the iceberg.  I don’t see why the technology can’t be expanded eventually to handle more complex tasks, like making flight or hotel reservations.  This is an area where I see the greatest potential for it to be a disruptive technology.

3. Decline of Human Connection (Maybe?)

Everyone is glued to their devices these days.  A lot of the communication is already done via emails and text.  People aren’t even using a phone to make calls as its primary function anymore.  While I love technology, there is something unique about making a connection with another human being.  This whole AI assistant thing – while impressive and efficient – makes me slightly wary of the potential impact it might have on human connections and social behaviors over time.

There are other implications too. For example, if I know that an AI bot is calling me, I’m likely inclined NOT want to pick up the call.  But, do I even have a choice if I’m running a business?


What do you think about the Google demo and the future of Google Duplex?

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Source: Travel Gadget Reviews

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