Last week, CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai demonstrated a new virtual assistant technology known as Google Duplex. While others were awestruck with the demo, a few noticed something unusual in it. When experts got to know about this, they analyzed and found something fishy about it. On seeking explanations, the spokesperson remained unavailable for any comments even after assuring that the word won’t go out. But before we discuss about what went wrong, let’s know about the assistant that was being introduced!
What is Google Duplex?
A new tool which is given by Google, Duplex aims to use “accomplish real-world tasks over the phone.” According to the demo, it is using AI to complete a few small tasks such as scheduling an appointment, booking a table and others using a human-like voice that is convincing enough!
If you have seen the conference demo, you would be aware that Duplex can do much more. It has a huge bank of data which it can process and give output based upon it. A few experts have claimed that it is just like speech-to-text. But the reality is far different! It is not even close to text-to-speech and that’s what makes it special. In text-to-speech, you realize that reply is being given by a machine due to its robotic voice. On the flip side, Duplex has a human-like voice!
What makes this even more interesting is the fact that it understands the perception of user. It is claimed that once fully developed, it can the context as well. It is accomplishing its task with the help of something called “recurrent neural network” which is prepared via Google’s TensorFlow Extended technology. To help it work, an entire network consisting of highly efficient computers are managed by cloud so that you can have an “Intelligent Assistant” on board for you.
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Why are the Experts in a Dilemma?
In the conference, Sundar Pichai told, “What you’re going to hear is the Google Assistant actually calling a real salon to schedule an appointment for you.. In the demo of approximately a minute, the AI assistant calls up a salon, exchanges greetings and books an appointment. Entire time, the receptionist or the person who receives the call cannot tell that she is talking to an AI. Between the cheers of audience and excitement of getting to know something like this, we forgot to take notice of minute details. The Axios, pointed out few glitches which make this suspicious. They are:
In the demo, when assistant calls a salon, the person on other side says “Hello, how can I help you?” Also, at no point she mentions her name or the business for which it works. This is a bit fishy because no matter how big or small a business is, they mention its name without fail.
Well, we have never witnessed any salon or restaurant that has pin drop silence. Almost all the time we can hear someone chatting or the sound of hair dryers. Even the best of the salons and restaurants have some noise.
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The person on the other end just asks for first name; neither the last name nor the phone number. Basically the process followed does not match with the conventional practices and this has got mixed response!
California is a two-party consent state, this implies that before recording any call, the consent of both the parties is needed. But in the phone call, the person on the other side was not informed about the same. Had they taken permission before? However, Google later came out and clarified that it will inform about the recording but only in a few countries.
Use of fillers
We can agree to the fact that AI assistant is making a call without disclosing it’s a bot, but believing that it is using fillers as “Mm-hmm” “ahh” “Oh, I gotcha thanks” is a bit suspicious. As CEO mentioned, even after years they are at the basic level that means it should not be as advanced as depicted!
Well, these all were enough to create doubts, what made it even more suspicious was Google didn’t give names of the businesses and denied to make any statement about the authenticity of the clips.
A few say that the Duplex is in beta version and it may have used the edited version or the fake one for the presentation. But the question is if this was the scenario, why did Pichai claim that an actual call was made. Moreover, providing the details of businesses to ensure the authenticity of the call would have ended all discussions but things have now taken an unexpected turn!
What do you think? Was the clip fake or real? Do let us know in the comments section!