Google Duplex: Could a Robot Book Your Next Meal?

It's very possible that a human-sounding virtual assistant could make your restaurant bookings soon


Given that we're in the spookiest month of the year, what if we told you Google was creating an artificial intelligence that was capable of sounding just like us? In 2018, Google revealed a new AI technology, called Google Duplex, that can help people make reservations. What's the big deal about this? Well, the AI technology uses machine learning to mimic the human voice and it already sounds remarkably real. Already, Google Duplex's AI is able to mimic the tones and cadences of regular human speech, which makes this AI sound so human it can actually fool people.


The Proof

In a recording from Google that was demonstrated at its I/O Conference in 2018, Google Duplex was used to book a table at a restaurant. Not only was it able to successfully make the phone booking, but it completely fooled the restaurant staff member into thinking that it was human. The video is equal parts amazing and equal parts terrifying. Google Duplex's AI was even able to respond to difficult speech patterns like, [1] "Hold on," or "Just a minute," with natural filler words like "Mmhmm," and "Uh." You can see what we're on about in the below video. The entire clip is fascinationg, but if you want to skip to the restaurant-related content, begin at 3 minutes in. 


Uses For Google Duplex

While this may all seem pretty cool, or terrifying, depending on your opinion of AI, Google sees this new technology as having plenty of potential in the future. Google evisions a future where Google Duplex is accessible to everyone as a virtual assistant. According to Google, we don't need to worry about Duplex being used for nefarious reasons because it [2] "can only carry out conversations like this in restricted environments. The company plans to use the technology for its own purposes, too: For example, calling a restaurant to confirm its hours of operation in order to update the information listed on Google Maps."


Progress in 2019

As of Google's I/O event this year (2019), Google Duplex is in further testing and has developed to work on the web. The goal now, is to have Google Duplex begin by [3] "automating the rental car and movie ticket booking processes." This is done via Chrome with Google Assistant working with Google Duplex integrated to achieve the desired results. 


The process is detailed below courtesy of 9to5Google.com [4]


"Tapping slides up a compact Assistant panel that looks similar to the existing one, while - for example - the Fandango website loads in the background as a Chrome Custom Tab. Instead of interacting with the third-party, you select  "How many tickets would you like" from the Assistant sheet. This results in a standardized interface throughout interactions.Some parts still require you to interface with the site, like when selecting seats. The last step is confirming your details, agreeing to third-party service terms, and hitting "Continue" to book."


Return to Homepage

[1]https://www.eater.com/2018/5/8/17333156/google-assistant-duplex-update-restaurant-reservations-real-human-voice-creepy

[2]https://www.eater.com/2018/5/8/17333156/google-assistant-duplex-update-restaurant-reservations-real-human-voice-creepy

[3]https://9to5google.com/2019/09/30/google-duplex-web-test/

[4]https://9to5google.com/2019/09/30/google-duplex-web-test/


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