Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
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Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

"We aren't testing Duplex with any enterprise clients", a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Google denies testing Duplex with any specific enterprise companies.

While there may be major profits awaiting these firms as the conquer call centres, they also come with a cost: humans will inevitably be bumped from the jobs.

A report from The Information reveals that third-parties are in the "very early stages of testing Google's technology for use in other applications". Duplex is created to operate in very specific use cases, and now we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers.

One of the features of Duplex that attracted so much attention is the way the voice not only sounds so naturally human - it also includes the intermittent pauses, the "ums" and "ahs" that show up in normal conversation.


Google's promise that its current focus is on restaurant reservations may be a comfort to call-centre employees, but it's hard not to imagine the company taking an interest in the sector.

The idea for use in a call center setting or with that insurance company would be a version of what we've already seen Google doing with Duplex - namely, fielding simple calls and requests and passing things off to a human if things get more complicated. Another key distinction is how Duplex has more advanced conversational capabilities compared to competitors. This move seems quite similar to what Amazon is doing by selling the technology behind Alexa to call centers. In this example, the company's lead in natural language processing allows it to understand a wider range of user responses for a longer period before handing off to a human.

There is precedent for Google making Duplex available to third-parties. Google has announced that the AI Assistant will start being publically tested in a few months.

Some big global companies are already in the early stages of testing the Google Duplex AI technology. Just last week, Google better detailed Duplex's disclosure mechanism and the calling experience that businesses will hear. According to The Information, "ethical concerns" overshadowed Google's demonstration of the Duplex technology, and the company interested in the assistant has pumped the brakes on the proposed project. After public outcryat the implication of people in the future not knowing whether they were talking to humans or machines, Google adapted the bot's introduction so it clearly explains it's not a human.

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