A Little Duplex Skepticism

I’ve been thinking about this Google Duplex thing — the AI assistant that can, according to Google, make phone calls on your behalf such as the one that the company played a video of on stage during Sundar Pichai’s I/O keynote.

Why not demo it live? Why only play recordings? When is it rolling out to actual customers? Was there a hands-on after the event where members of the media or conference attendees could talk to Duplex? It’s totally credible that Google would be the first to achieve something like Duplex, but the fact that all they did — as far as I’ve seen — was play a recording just seems off. It feels like a con.

If Duplex is real, if it can make phone calls and speak as intelligently as Google’s recordings make it seem, where are the people who’ve actually spoken with it? How is what they showed, and the way they showed it, distinguishable from a fraud? The more I think about it, the more strange this “demo” seems.

Friday, 11 May 2018