Dan Primack, reporting for Axios:
When you call a business, the person picking up the phone almost
always identifies the business itself (and sometimes gives their
own name as well). But that didn’t happen when the Google
assistant called these “real” businesses:
When the hair salon picks up, a woman says: “Hello, how can I
When the restaurant picks up, a woman says: “Hi, may I help you?”
Axios called over two dozen hair salons and restaurants —
including some in Google’s hometown of Mountain View — and every
one immediately gave the business name.
The way the people answered the phone in these recordings was one of the first things that made me suspicious that these examples were either significantly edited or outright fakes. Plus, the salon only asks for a name (and only a first name at that). No phone number, no checking if the client has a request for a certain stylist.
For those defending Google along the lines that it’s acceptable for on-stage demos to be simulated, the problem is that Sundar Pichai said, “What you’re going to hear is the Google Assistant actually calling a real salon to schedule an appointment for you. Let’s listen.”
Axios asked Google for the name of the hair salon or restaurant,
in order to verify both that the businesses exist and that the
calls were not pre-planned. We also said that we’d guarantee, in
writing, not to publicly identify either establishment (so as to
prevent them from receiving unwanted attention).
A longtime Google spokeswoman declined to provide either name.
We also asked if either call was edited, even perhaps just cutting
the second or two when the business identifies itself. And, if so,
were there other edits? The spokeswoman declined comment, but said
she’d check and get back to us. She didn’t.
Kudos to Primack for pressing Google on this.
★ Thursday, 17 May 2018