Google’s new lifelike AI assistant sparks backlash

It can make phone calls and schedule appointments, all in authentically human voice and cadence—including ‘ums’ and ‘ahs.’ Business owners and others are wary of the consequences.

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Just how much automation is too much?

PR pros might benefit from some robot assistance, such as an email scheduler or chatbots that can handle social media requests. Yet Google’s new smart assistant is pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence—and that has ethics experts and business owners concerned.

Google’s new assistant was unveiled at Google’s I/O conference, showing off the ability to make phone calls to restaurants and hair salons on your behalf.

The most striking aspect? The robot sounds human.

Quartz reported:

Duplex is different from other “smart” assistants, in that the people primarily interacting with it are not aware that it is a computer. When a user asks Siri or Alexa for something, they are not surprised to get a stilted, robotic response or be totally misunderstood. But a restaurant host who gets a call from Duplex asking to make a reservation is not told that the voice belongs to a recurrent neural network built on TensorFlow Extended, or whatever. For that reason, Duplex’s speech had to sound more natural. If it were obviously a robot, the restaurant would probably just hang up.

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