Google's human-sounding Duplex AI is finally rolling out to real-world Pixel users

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on 23 Nov 2018
Google's human-sounding Duplex AI is finally rolling out to real-world Pixel users
HIGHLIGHTS

Google has confirmed that it has expanded from a “set of trusted tester users” earlier this year to a “small group” of Google Pixel phone owners.

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Google has reportedly rolled out its human-sounding AI Duplex to a “small group” of people whoc can now use the tech to make reservations at restaurants in “select cities.” VentureBeat says that these “select cities” could be New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco which are company’s pilot areas. Google introduced Duplex at the I/O 2018 in May this year and during the demo, company CEO Sundar Pichai showcased how the AI called a barber shop to book an appointment for a haircut and the person on the other side couldn’t figure out that he was talking to a programme.

VentureBeat says that a spokesperson from Google has confirmed that Duplex is being rolled out to some users. “We’re currently ramping up the ability to book restaurant reservations through the Google Assistant over the phone using Duplex technology. To help deliver a good experience to Pixel users and to businesses, we’re starting with a slow rollout … and will expand to more Pixel users as we continue to ramp up,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying. The report also also claims that if you’re not in the “trusted tester” group, you’ll get an error message saying, “Sorry, I can’t call to make reservations for you yet, but here’s their phone number: [10 digits].”

Note: VentureBeat was one of the lucky people who got the feature on their Pixel devices. Here’s a video of them testing the feature.

In June, a report said that Google is readying Duplex for testing with a limited group of “trusted testers”. The company announced that the rollout will be done in a phased manner and that Duplex calls will first start with making calls about opening and closing hours of a place, followed by restaurant reservations and lastly, haircut appointments. Google uses its Deep Mind’s Wavenet AI to generate a voice for Google Assistant that sounds intensely personal. It is trained to speak more naturally and can emphasise phrases based on the context, adjust the pitch and tone of its voice, and switch between seven diverse voices.

Even though it sounds interesting, some critics have questioned the technology for allegedly being murky. A report even claimed that some large companies are in the early stages of testing this technology in call centres to answer customer service questions. If successful, Google Duplex could pose a threat to the jobs of employees working in the call centre business -- a scenario that the Mountain View-headquartered company has outrightly refuted. Google says that Duplex is designed to operate in very specific use cases, and currently it is focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers.

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