Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Google’s Duplex AI could kill the call center

"Hello this is a human speaking. No I swear
Troy Mann | 09 July, 2018, 09:14

The company this afternoon denied The Information's report on "very early stage" testing of Duplex for call centers. Reports indicate that at least one insurance company is eyeing Duplex to handle routine calls.

A Google spokesperson told The Information that the company isnt actively testing the technology with businesses but the “business could be exploring ways to use the technology on their own”.

"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". They further stated that the technology is focused on very specific use cases, and is now being tested with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers.

Google Duplex first wowed us back at the Google IO 2018 developer event back in May, and since then we've been able to test it out for ourselves. Alphabet Inc.'s Google (GOOGL) product called Google Duplex, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered assistant capable of speaking like a human, is appearing awesome to some and scary to others. 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. Duplex is created to operate in very specific use cases, and now we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers.

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However, the same powerful technology has a flip side for some, as it now appears capable to take away the jobs of telemarketing professionals and call-center operators. Last year, Amazon started selling a version of its wildly popular voice assistant Alexa designed specifically for use responding to questions via phone and text.

There is precedent for Google making Duplex available to third-parties.

Google's promise that its current focus is on restaurant reservations may be a comfort to call-centre employees, but it's hard not to imagine the company taking an interest in the sector.

The Information report later adds that the insurance company slowed work on the project due to ethical concerns. Suddenly the world was anxious that people in the future would not know whether they were talking to humans or machines.

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