At IO 2018, Google demoed Duplex
The bot assistant can place orders on your behalf via voice calls
Google Duplex implements AI, machine learning as well as text to speech technologies
Google announced a number of interesting things during its ongoing annual conference for developers, Google IO 2018. These announcements ranged from its plans about its products including Google Maps, Assistant, Android P, Gmail, revamped Google News, Google Lens, and Google Photos and other work it is doing with the help of AI.
There were a number of live demos on stage, but what caught our eye was the demonstration of Google Duplex. Google Assistant used Google Duplex, a new technology to call a small business on the behalf the user, converse with the user like a user would, to book an appointment.
The call that Google Assistant made was part of taking care of tasks such as booking appointments. The assistant would book appointments online if the business offers that option. Otherwise, it would call and talk to the business without any intervention from the user to book the appointment.
It was astonishing to see how the system could understand complex sentences, the context of the query and even navigate through any interruptions. The person on the other end did not realize that they were talking to a machine in the demonstrations. Once the appointment was made, Assistant would notify the user of the timings and details of the appointment.
Google took to its blog to explain that Assistant was able to make the call, understand and converse with the help of Duplex. The company highlighted that Duplex would help about 60 percent of small businesses who don’t have an online booking system. Researchers working on Duplex posted more details in a separate blog post.
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Yaniv Leviathan, Principal Engineer, and Yossi Matias, Vice President, Engineering at Google clarified that Duplex was meant for specific tasks such as booking an appointment. This “closed domain” or rather limited expectations from Duplex made it easier for the company to develop the technology.
They pointed that Duplex can complete most tasks on its own but it can recognize the tasks that it can’t complete on its own, signaling human operators to complete the incomplete tasks. According to the company, Duplex can’t carry out general conversations. Sundar Pichai pointed out during the keynote that Google wants to get this right and will start early tests during this summer.