The warnings from people such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings about artificial intelligence just got a little scarier. Google unveiled a new AI technology they have been working on for years called Google Duplex. The advanced AI of Duplex allows new abilities for Google Assistant such as being able to call and schedule appointments at local businesses on your behalf. CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled the new feature with a demonstration which he says is in the not too distance future.
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The new digital AI helper is so startlingly similar to a human voice that the person on the other end of the call had no idea they were talking to an AI assistant. The Assistant even uses casual vocals such as "mmhmm" and the occasional "um" in between words. The most creepy part is that "Assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation", according to Pichai. "The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation," he said.
Google's chief executive said the company plans to conduct early testing of Duplex inside Assistant this summer "to help users make restaurant reservations, schedule hair salon appointments, and get holiday hours over the phone." Pichai said the Assistant will even react intelligently even when a conversation "doesn't go as expected" and veers off course from the task at hand. "We’re still developing this technology, and we want to work hard to get this right," Pichai said. "We really want it to work in cases, say if you’re a busy parent in the morning and your kid is sick and you want to call for a doctor’s appointment."
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"The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine," Pichai explained.
Google shed some light on the new technology:
<i>"The Google Duplex system is capable of carrying out sophisticated conversations and it completes the majority of its tasks fully autonomously, without human involvement. The system has a self-monitoring capability, which allows it to recognize the tasks it cannot complete autonomously (e.g., scheduling an unusually complex appointment). In these cases, it signals to a human operator, who can complete the task.</i>
<i>To train the system in a new domain, we use real-time supervised training. This is comparable to the training practices of many disciplines, where an instructor supervises a student as they are doing their job, providing guidance as needed, and making sure that the task is performed at the instructor’s level of quality. In the Duplex system, experienced operators act as the instructors. By monitoring the system as it makes phone calls in a new domain, they can affect the behavior of the system in real time as needed. This continues until the system performs at the desired quality level, at which point the supervision stops and the system can make calls autonomously."</i>
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