Google Duplex – First live demo of the impressive AI

Google Duplex – First live demo of the impressive AI

After Google caused a great stir at the I / O keynote with its KI Duplex, the manufacturer has now introduced the smart assistant in a live demo for the first time.

Limited tests are scheduled for the summer of 2018. If Google was able to present the smart AI Assistant Google Duplex as part of the I / O Keynote only via a recording, the manufacturer has now presented the program live to selected journalists. Among other matters, the editors of The Verge could call with Duplex, while the AI tried to make a reservation for a restaurant.

Unlike the first demonstration in May 2018, Google Duplex always recognized itself as being an AI with the following sentence: ” Hello, I’m calling to make a reservation. I am Google’s automated booking service, so I pick up the call. Um, can I book a table for Sunday, the first one? 

According to TheVerge, Google apparently tested several variations of this sentence to find out which ones were least distracted by the recipients. Following the movement, an a-hong sound usually followed during the demo to allow the person being called to object to the recording. If you refuse to record, Duplex says, “Ok, I’ll call back on an unrecorded line,” whereupon a human will make the call again.

Google itself has announced that they want to start their first live tests with Google Duplex “over the coming weeks”. For the time being, however, the demo version will only be released to a heavily limited group of »reliable test users«.

The performance of the duplex AI on the I / O keynote brought much applause to Google, but also a lot of criticism: AI experts feared the consequences that could have a human-sounding AI, if the humanoid interlocutor does not recognize the AI as such. Meanwhile, Google has responded to the criticism and stated in an official statement that the AI has a “built-in disclosure”.

“We understand the discussion about Google Duplex and appreciate it,” said a Google spokesman to The Verge. “We will design this feature with a disclosure built-in, and we will ensure that the system can be properly identified.” To what extent Google intends to incorporate such identification of the AI as such in duplex, is not yet known.

Original message: The touring test applies to AI developers and their creations as the hurdle in the creation of an artificial intelligence equal to the human, which can react like a human being. Now obviously Google has programmed an AI that can pass the touring test.

As the Washington Post and Engadget report, Google introduced the Google Duplex called AI at the in-house developer conference I / O. As part of the demonstration, Google illustrated how the AI made calls to make an appointment, once with a hairdresser and once in a Chinese restaurant – by the way, this was a recording and not a live conversation. The video of the phone calls can be found below.

AI acts as a human interlocutor

What is immediately apparent in Google’s presentation of Duplex is the naturalness with which the AI communicates. At no time do the interviewees seem to realize that they are talking to a robot – the AI even disperses typical human words and sounds like “Ah” or “Mhm”.

In a blog post, the Google developers wrote that the goal of the duplex AI is to provide the most natural conversation experience for the human interlocutor. For this Google uses a combination of a concatenative and synthesized text-to-speech engine using Tacotron and WaveNet.

Using these technologies, Duplex can also respond to interrupts or requests in specified conversations, for example, when the other party asks to repeat a dictated phone number. In addition, the developers managed to set up a latency period for the answers and reactions of the AI, which flexibly adapts to the communication situation and thus has a particularly natural effect.

Duplex executes calls “completely autonomously”

Google points out that Duplex is capable of “performing sophisticated conversations and doing most of its tasks completely autonomously.” In cases where the AI reaches its limits, it calls its human user for support.

However, duplex can only perform those conversations for which the AI has before been sufficiently trained. General calls should not be possible with duplex. As an area of application, Google currently sees above all automated customer service hotlines, where callers can talk to a natural-sounding digital assistant instead of a choppy computer voice.

Google’s AI has opportunities, but also dangers

As comfortable and pleasant as the conversation with duplex and the use of AI as a digital assistant may be, the technology also poses dangers. These, in turn, are based in particular in Google’s WaveNet.

Because, as Engadget explains, WaveNet allows the synthesization of computer voices, which in turn are strikingly similar to the voices of real people. Because Duplex on the phone is virtually indistinguishable from a human voice, it would be possible to fake audio from known people using KI and WaveNet audio.

MIT MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson told the Washington Post that the technology was “amazing,” but he did not think an AI would be able to impersonate a human being. The fact that the human interlocutor does not know that he speaks with a machine, could, therefore, provide on many levels for problems and abuse scenarios. “A bot should at least truthfully answer when a person asks if it’s a bot,” Brynjolfsson said.

Google itself said it was taking very seriously the dangers that could come from the potential spread of false information by an AI such as Duplex. The developers announced that Duplex will be ready for testing in the summer of 2018 for a limited number of Google Assistant users. Whether and when the AI will be usable for a broader mass is still unclear.


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