Quarter of the Calls From Google Duplex are Actually Made by Humans

Ruben Fields
May 25, 2019

Google's AI will be the one to process your reservation which starts with online booking tools at first but if the option isn't available, it will let the AI call the restaurant and sound like an actual human calling, book a table for you, then send you confirmation and the details.

Duplex isn't as widely available just yet and so Google probably has time to fix the back-end before rolling it out more widely. Except in a quarter of cases, it's a human rather than AI that is placing the call.

Yes, in other words it's humans stealing computers' jobs.

During a demo previous year, Google said humans would be monitoring the system, so this news should perhaps come as no surprise. The journalists worked on their study for a few days and placed more than a dozen bookings. In an interim conclusion, Google has now stated that currently about 25 percent of calls placed through the Duplex service are actually conducted by humans, and that in about 15 percent of robot calls a human has to intervene at some point.

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Too good to be true?

For now, Google has no plans of ending human intervention for Duplex.

For now, Google seems to be focusing on a single domain - restaurant reservations. It added: "Duplex can only carry out natural conversations after being deeply trained in such domains". He called a Thai restaurant to make a dinner reservation for two. There are, in theory, a limited number of queries and responses that could arise in a booking scenario, making it easier for an automated system to deal with. Thus, the service is still in active development and not the automated service the company advertised it as. "It's like a real person talking".

The revelation that so many calls now require human interaction could be seen as an indication that Google Duplex is failing, but it is more complicated than that. With any artificially intelligent system, data is the key to improving. It can be hard for the workers at restaurants to know the difference because the script for human callers is very similar to what the machine says. While very human-sounding, Duplex-initiated calls are identified as such, and those answering the call will learn over time how best to interact with the system to improve efficiency and success rates.

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