Google has unveiled an astonishing new AI at the Google I/O 2018. It is capable of making actual calls and interacts with real people over the phone, without them finding out.
These days, it’s quite common for businesses, or network operators, to set up a bot/robot to answer your phone that redirects you to a human operator or processes your request. It’s easy to guess that the “lady” over the phone is merely a pre-recorded response that plays on repeat, cannot hear what you are saying, and is pretty stupid.
Google is looking to change that – it showed off a new AI feature of the Google Assistant that is able to naturally communicate with real humans over the phone and carry out user tasks such as setting appointments.
Using this feature, called Google Duplex, users will be able to ask for opening hours or make appointments in restaurants by simply instructing Google Assistant to do it for them.
The AI, on request, makes an autonomous call to a particular business and carries out the task assigned to it except, this time, it converses as cleanly and “realistically” as a human would. It uses natural human-like language and does not sound like an eerie, melodic robot.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, demonstrated its abilities at Google I/O 2018 through recordings of real calls made by the Google Assistant.
In the calls, the persons on the other side of the phone did not even notice they were talking to an AI. It talks casually and even uses speech disfluencies like “hmm’s” and “uh’s” while processing a complex sentence – just like humans do. Moreover, it is also able to effectively handle complex situations where cognitive decision making is required.
Almost Fully Autonomous
Google says that it carries most of its tasks fully autonomously, with almost zero involvement from the company. It does, however, have a panic button feature to signal a human operator if it finds a task too complex or unexpected to handle. There’s still some time before it officially rolls out for public use as its still under development
”The Google Duplex technology is built to sound natural, to make the conversation experience comfortable. It’s important to us that users and businesses have a good experience with this service, and transparency is a key part of that. We want to be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context. We’ll be experimenting with the right approach over the coming months.”
Google has published a complete report about how it works on GoogleBlog. You can visit the blog to check out additional audio recordings of real calls made by Google Assistant and also to get more details on how it works.