Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

Florence Fletcher
July 9, 2018

"We're now 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".

Google emphasized that it is "taking a slow and measured approach" with Duplex - likely due to the initial backlash - and reiterated the three limited domains that the company has so far announced. An anonymous source that claims to be close with Google's plans says that the company is already in talks with at least one firm that would like to use Duplex for "simple, straightforward customer service calls".

If Google was looking to bring Duplex into call centres, it wouldn't be the first tech giant to consider rolling its AI into the telemarketing industry. If Google AI would make it easier on the caller, would this not be a good thing for everyone? "We aren't testing Duplex with any enterprise clients", a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Many of Google's technological advancements have both consumer and enterprise applications. Which is why the tech giant thinks its Duplex AI - which sounds so human and can imitate the quirks of human speech so well that it's nearly creepy - would be a flawless addition to call centers. A report from past year, again from The Information, claims that Amazon is planning to import the same natural language processing that powers Alexa into call centres. The idea is that the Duplex AI would be able to handle basic calls and assist customers with problems and questions.

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According to The Information, Google has taken an interest in using Duplex to replace human workers at call centres.

A report from The Information reveals that third-parties are in the "very early stages of testing Google's technology for use in other applications". This service offered by Google Cloud uses the core speech recognition technology used by Search and Assistant.

Google Duplex is a technology that's created to work for people, not take their jobs - at least, according to Google. According to The Information, "ethical concerns" overshadowed Google's demonstration of the Duplex technology, and the company interested in the assistant has pumped the brakes on the proposed project. The primary critique is that even in a call center setting customers would be unaware they are talking to a machine and feel subsequently deceived.

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