The Evolution of AI: Google Assistant
At I/O 2018, Google presented the next generation of Google Assistant, their on-device AI personal assistant and competitor to Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. Besides some other nifty features, the AI will soon make phone calls for you. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai gave an onstage demonstration of a call that was placed by Assistant to a hair salon. Interestingly, the unsuspecting hairdresser did not understand that she was not speaking with a human, but an AI platform. The Google Assistant even dropped in several “Ums”, “Uhs”, and “Mmmhmms”. Cool, but maybe a little creepy too, right?
Let’s watch the clip (Warning: it gets a little weird at 0:44):
“The amazing thing,” Pichai said, “Is that the Assistant can actually understand the nuances of the conversation. We’ve been working on this technology for many years. It’s called Google Duplex.”
Google also published a blog post, which stresses the goal of human-computer interactions and how the interactions are finally coming to fruition. The post discusss the software and its ability to carry on natural conversations between the AI and human. The Assistant makes the conversation during the appointment setting or reservation as natural as possible so that the caller need not adapt to the system: Google Assistant adapts to them.
The Blog hosts examples of the Assistant talking to different businesses and its male/female voices. The blog post includes voice clips of the Assistant making a complex statement, handling interruptions, elaborating, and responding to a sync.
Despite marketing’s positive spin on the recent advancements made in Artificial Intelligence, there are some that think this evolution could be a negative thing. Natt Gauran, Technology Editor, for The Verge explained that she couldn’t help but think of the person on the other end of the line.
“When did human service workers become Google’s to experiment on?” Gurran asked. “I worry that it will become easier for us to abuse small business. If it’s as simple as telling Google Duplex to make an appointment, it’s just as easy to constantly reschedule or not show up… because there’s no connection between you and the worker. You don’t even need to say “Please.”
Could we be heading towards a future where these types of interactions happen at work? Will your next computer help desk interaction be with a bot? Do you think your accounting department can be augmented with an AI that helps you procure and purchase? What about booking company meetings, retreats, and travel- could this be its future? This opens a lot of possibilities but raises so many questions, too.
What are your thoughts on Google Assistant and Duplex? How will intelligent agents and voice services like this change the way you work? We want to hear from you.