People are raising ethical questions against Human-sounding Google Assistant

People are raising ethical questions against Human-sounding Google Assistant

The next phase of the Google Assistant is to become more naturally conversational, visually assistive, and helpful in getting things done. Google just announced their latest update to the digital assistant and it sounds exactly like a human being.

Google chief Sundar Pichai played a recording of the Google Assistant independently calling a hair salon and a restaurant to make bookings - interacting with staff who evidently didn't realize they were dealing with artificial intelligence software, rather than a real customer. The Google assistant did such an uncanny impression of a person, incorporating appropriate nuances wherever needed, that the person on the other end was not able to recognize that he was even talking to real person. Understanding this, Duplex thanks the person on the other end and hangs up. Technology like this also makes it easier to data-mine in real life. Duplex sounds nearly realistic enough to pass as human, including verbal ticks and speech inflections, such as saying "uh" or "um" or "mm hmm" when speaking.

Google is rolling out a tool called "Your Match", which uses machine learning to determine your location and interests, serving up targeted suggestions for new businesses opening up in your area and more.

And for many this poses an ethical concern. "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". When the demonstration was run, several of those present praised Google on the technology but stated they were concerned that the bot's vocals were indistinguishably from those of a human.

A slew of features are coming to Android, and we've already talked about them in detail, in an in-depth article.

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"We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex — as weve said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important", a Google spokesperson said.

"If AI Duplex identifies itself as an automated robot or the alike, then it will be up to the human to decide if he/she wishes to continue the conversation". With the second developer preview came a handful of changes and new features to the Android operating system that will give users something to look forward to no matter how big or small, such as the new security features or the slight design change of the heads-up notifications.

While the technology itself is fascinating, perhaps the more interesting revelation from the past few days has been the vociferous public conversation.

Which brings us back to Duplex and its timing. A lot of Google I/O 2018 was focused on Google's assistant and how they are leading the way for new and smarter devices.

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