The World Wide Web was created for many reasons but there’s no doubt that it has given millions of people a voice. However, Google could soon let technology speak for you. The search engine giant is launching a new innovation called Google Duplex, an Artificial Intelligence technology that will be doing more of the talking. The AI was launched on Tuesday at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference.
The feature is capable of calling on behalf of humans and scheduling appointments or even reservations in restaurants. The AI is so real that you wouldn’t even notice you are talking to a machine. The technology was unveiled by Google CEO Sundar Pichai who played real-life calls on stage for everyone present. Although Pichai acknowledged that the technology is not perfect, he said that the company will start rolling it out in the next few weeks.
Google’s principal engineer Yaniv Leviathan wrote in a blog post that Google Duplex is designed to complete specific tasks including scheduling certain types of appointments. Vice president of engineering Yossi Matias added in the same post that for these specific tasks, the system will easily deliver the “perfect conversational experience” that would be the same as a normal human to human conversation. According to Matias, the AI is capable of adding human vocal tics such as “um” and others. The technology will also ask follow up questions just like any human would do while scheduling an appointment.
However, the new feature raises a number of privacy questions. It’s possible that the AI will need to access specific private information about the user in order to schedule the appointments. But Google has moved quickly to calm any privacy worries saying that the company’s intention is to implement the technology with the right approach. The search engine company has also noted that there will be human supervision during experimentation with the technology. Humans will be able to track the conversations made by the machine in real time and alter them based on how they see fit. This will be part of the overall machine training. Human supervision will be removed only when the system performs at the desired human level.
Google didn’t say how it will integrate transparency and privacy protection into the new system. However, the company has in the recent months revamped a number of its products including its free email service Gmail. The company is already introducing smart replies on Gmail. The technology predicts what users might say as they draft an email even before they type it. The user then gets suggestions and can pick what they feel is close or exactly what wanted to type. The use of AI has been on the rise in the last few years and major tech companies are investing a lot of resources to deliver the perfect machine learning experience to their users. It looks like Google is leading the way and its new Google Duplex AI could set the stage for more sophistication in this area moving forward.