Claim Chowder: Google Duplex

Three years ago Google announced a service called Duplex at their I/O conference. They also played purported demos of Duplex in action. I was highly skeptical, and cast doubt that the demos Google offered were legitimate. A lot of people gave me a lot of shit about my skepticism.

In a follow-up post, after Google provided a handful of journalists with a very limited hands-on demo, I wrote:

Right now it feels like a feature in search of a product, but they pitched it as an imminent product at I/O because it made for a stunning demo. (It remains the only thing announced at I/O that anyone is talking about.) If what Google really wanted was just for Google Assistant to be able to make restaurant reservations, they’d be better off building an OpenTable competitor and giving it away to all these small businesses that don’t yet offer online reservations. I’m not holding my breath for Duplex ever to allow anyone to make a reservation at any establishment.

Three years later and I’m still not holding my breath.

Update: Apparently Duplex has launched, but it’s unclear how often the AI system — not human operators — make the phone calls. Would love to hear some recordings of this in action.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021