Google unveils human-sounding AI Assistant 'Duplex', raises ethical concerns

Ruben Fields
May 11, 2018

After critics labeled Google's nearly human-sounding voice AI Duplex as "horrifying", the search giant has announced that the software will identify itself to humans before a conversation begins. This brings the total number of voices available for the Assistant up from two to eight (four male and four female), but unlike numerous new products shown off at Google I/O, the voices are already live.

Other improvements include the ability to trigger multiple actions with a single, custom command, and a forthcoming feature called "Pretty Please" that is created to encourage children to be polite in their interactions with Google Assistant, and, hopefully, everyone else.

Google Duplex is an important development and signals an urgent need to figure out proper governance of machines that can fool people into thinking they are human, according to Kay Firth-Butterfield, head of the AI and machine learning project at the World Economic Forum's Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. "That which we revealed at I/O was an ancient technology presentation, and we anticipate integrating feedback as we grow this into a product".

Google boss Sundar Pichai introduced the technology on-stage at the firm's I/O developer conference by playing a recording of Duplex phoning a hair salon and confirming an appointment for a user. As per Google's demo, which involved the AI assistant making a supposedly real call to book an appointment at a hair salon, there was no indication the call was from a computer.

Burglary Suspect Arrested at Rihanna's Hollywood Home
Katy was upset about the whole situation because Rihanna was cold to her and she wasn't invited to her after-party'. Rihanna arrives for the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, 2018, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY .

LG first announced this capability at CES 2018 a couple of months back, when it demonstrated one of its TV model accepting commands over the remote control's built-in microphone and also responding back in Google Assistant's voice. The new innovation imitates a human voice to make appointments.

In this context, a Google spokesperson has given a statement to CNET, clarifying the identification details and confirming that the company include the necessary disclosure designs to the feature. For example, say "Hey Google, read me my messages" and you can get a summary of unread texts with the option to respond by voice. And if not, the Assistant will call the business on your behalf.

At a time of heightened concerns about online privacy, there were also worries expressed about what kind of data digital assistants might collect and who gets access to it.

This led to critics saying that Duplex would be taking advantage of people by not informing them they were speaking to a robot.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER