Earlier this week, Google demoed at I/O 18 that its Assitant can actually book appointments over the phone for you. Powered by Google Duplex, Assistant sounded scarily like a real person in the demo complete with the “uh” and “umm” any person would make while on a call. The demo left everyone amazed at Assistant capabilities, though it has also raised a lot of eyebrows.
Questions have been raised about Duplex sounding like a real person and how it would identify itself to other callers. Some have said that it would be disrespectful for the receiver of the call to not know that they are not actually talking to a real human being.
Well, Google has now confirmed that it would be designing disclosures in Duplex to ensure it is appropriately identified.
“We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex — as we’ve said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important,” a Google spokeswoman said in a statement. “We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we’ll make sure the system is appropriately identified. What we showed at I/O was an early technology demo, and we look forward to incorporating feedback as we develop this into a product.”
It is important to note here that Google is still working on Duplex. It clearly mentioned during its demo that it will be initially rolling out this feature on an experimental basis for limited use cases. So, before you start raising your pitchforks about Duplex, remember that there’s a lot of scope for improvement here.
As Google starts doing real-world trials of Duplex, it would get more data about the service and how the receiver responds which in turn would help improve it further. Plus, unlike Apple, Google actually listens to feedback from its users and so I’d expect the company to make a clear announcement to the receiver at the beginning of every Duplex call that they are talking to a robot.
Instead of raising pitchforks and criticising Google, I think we should appreciate and marvel at what Google has managed to achieve here. What do you think about Google Duplex? Crazy? Creepy? or a technological marvel?