Amidst reports and rumours that Google is building Duplex technology to automate customer service in call centres, it might come as a relief to many to hear Google state explicitly that it has no such plans for now. While Google will continue to develop Duplex with the aim of helping users with daily personal tasks, it won’t apply the technology at an enterprise level.
When The Information published a story about an unnamed insurance company looking for ways to implement Duplex in call centres, Google denied it, and responded to CNET with the following comment: “We're currently focused on consumer use cases for the Duplex technology where we can help people get things done, rather than applying it to potential enterprise use cases. We aren't testing Duplex with any enterprise clients. Duplex is designed to operate in very specific use cases, and currently we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers. It's important that we get the experience right, and we're taking a slow and measured approach as we incorporate learnings and feedback from our tests.”
The Information reportedly added to its story later on that the unnamed insurance company slackened its pace on the investigation because of ‘ethical concerns’. Nevertheless, the thought of not knowing if the response received in a customer service interaction is human or machine-based is unnerving to say the least.
For those not aware of what Google Duplex is, it is a new AI-based technology Google unveiled at its I/O conference in May. Designing Duplex to work as an extension to Google Assistant, Google showed its capabilities off during the demo by making it call businesses for retrieving information and making reservations. For instance, Duplex was successfully able to call a nearby salon to book an appointment on the user’s behalf when it was instructed to do so all by itself. Google's human-sounding Duplex AI will soon be tested in the US with a limited group of people. The AI will introduce itself at the start of the call to avoid any confusion at the receiver's end.