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Google Duplex Sounds a Lot Like a Human — And Sometimes it is One

Google Duplex on an Android phone
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Google Duplex can change the concept of digital assistant forever. Gone are the days when a digital assistant could only help you with the weather and web searches. Google Duplex can do things like book tables in restaurants by simply calling the restaurant and asking for a table, all while sounding like a real human being. However, it turns out that, at least for now, he can be a real human on the other line.

According to a New York Times report, about 25% of calls made by Google Duplex start with a human at the other end of the line, and in 15% of cases, humans intervene in the call at some time. This suggests that around 60% of the calls are totally autonomous, however, in the New York Times tests, three of the four successful reservations were completed with a certain level of human interaction.

There are good reasons why humans might have to intervene in Google's duplex calls. For example, the New York Times points out a situation in which Duplex did not recognize that reservations were available. In other situations, a human being could be involved if they suspect that the user might be a spammer.

For now, Google seems to be focusing on a single domain: restaurant reservations. When Duplex was introduced, Google launched it as something that could handle all kinds of reservations, and it is likely that the system will expand over time. For now, however, it seems that it is sticking to restaurants.

According to Google, the goal is to make sure that the implementation of Duplex is done correctly, and that means taking the time to train it correctly. With any artificially intelligent system, data is the key to improvement. As more calls are made through Google Duplex, it is likely that the system will learn and, eventually, decrease its dependence on human intervention. That said, Google's assistant vice president, Nick Fox, told the New York Times that he was in no hurry to end human interaction due to the fact that he did not want to make it difficult for restaurants to make reservations. [19659008]

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