Is it Robot or Human ? : Google Duplex

Robot or Human ? : View on Google Duplex

Google Duplex tech is an AI which mimics the human voice to make phone calls for doing things such as making an appointment over at the salon or booking the table over at a restaurant.

Sundar Pichai announced the technology over at Google I/O yesterday and it has been subject to much controversy and comments over the internet. So what’s so special about the technology ?


The most interesting thing about this technology is that it sounds so natural. Just like an human. See the mmm, hmm , ummm that makes the conversation so natural. The subtle pauses during the conversations mimics the human nature of thinking during a normal conversation. And that what makes it more interesting. Google AI has learned to talk just like an human over years by learning from the data it obtained from its human interaction.

That’s all great ! So, what’s the controversy about ? The way Google presented the technology encouraged people to think about themselves as powerful users, casting magic bots out across the world to do our bidding. But it’s the other side of the interaction that deserves attention.

How would you feel when you are talking with a person but the person is not actually a person but rather a robot acting if it’s a person. Google has the obligation to inform the person on call that it’s a automated voice that they are speaking to. Google has its own points to defend their strategy.

Automation begets automation. In that sense, Google Duplex feels not like something new and amazing (though it is also that), but something old and stultifying. For decades now, we’ve been forcing human service workers to act like robots. This makes many service interactions unpleasant enough that people want to avoid them, so now, Google will provide everyone with a robot that can act like a human. Finally, technological capitalism has generated the correct match for the robotic service worker: a robot service worker.
Already, the push-button service framework, Uber for everything, has eroded this last bastion of local chitchat. Google Duplex will simply extend that trend even to those businesses who have not given in to the computerization of their reservation systems.

The only thing that makes a phone reservation system better than a button is the trust that we have over the person at other end of the phone. That the person would be able to understand our concern and would be able to serve us better rather than a machine. But what if the person at the other end of the phone loses trust over us ? The absence of trust is a disaster.

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