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Google Duplex might be heading to call centers to replace human workers

Your next call for tech support might be answered by Google Duplex.

  • Published: July 6, 2018 10:57 AM IST
Google Duplex Sundar Pichai IO 2018 main

Google Duplex, the controversial AI communication technology that will make appointments and reservations on your behalf, might be extended to enterprise users as well. The search giant announced last month that the public testing of the feature will begin this summer. Now, The Information reports that Google Duplex will make its way to call centers as well.

Google Duplex, as the name implies, enables duplex communication through the digital assistant. At company’s developer conference in May, Google showed how Duplex can make reservations and book appointments via phone call without person at the other end realizing that they are talking to a robot. While the technology seemed controversial, there is no denial that it was also very impressive. According to The Information, some big companies are in the early stages of testing Google Duplex for use in their own applications, such as call centers.

With Duplex, most call centers will be able to replace some of the work currently done by humans. The move might be similar to what Amazon is doing by selling the technology behind its Alexa digital assistant to companies running call centers. Duplex, which looked like a nifty trick at I/O 2018 helping users to save time on calls, might have bigger implications in the enterprise world.

Soon after the publication of this report, Google has clarified that it is only focusing on consumer applications with Duplex. It claims the Google Assistant-powered service is not being tested by enterprise customers, reports 9to5Google.

“We’re currently focused on consumer use cases for the Duplex technology and we aren’t testing Duplex with any enterprise clients,” Google said in a statement. “As we shared last week, 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.”

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Last month, Google showed select journalists how Duplex will work when you make hotel reservations at a partner hotel in Mountain View, California. It also emphasized “taking a slow and measured approach” with Duplex due to backlash around ethical viability of such technology. While Google might not be testing Duplex with enterprise customers, it does not rule out the fact that Duplex will eventually make its way to call centers just like Alexa does. The unanswered question right now will be how comfortable we humans are talking to a human-like sounding voice powered by an artificially intelligent bot.

  • Published Date: July 6, 2018 10:57 AM IST