A year ago, Google Duplex made headlines when Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, presented the duplex feature to the audience at I/O 2018. The audience was excited to hear that Artificial Intelligence could be potentially trained to make phone calls and even make food reservations on behalf of humans. In a live demonstration, Duplex AI Assistant called a hair stylist to book an appointment. The conversation was so life-like that it even mimicked common human vocal patterns such as the use of ‘mmm’ and ‘hmm’. It seemed near impossible for a person to differentiate whether there was a human or the machine on the other line.
In March, this feature was rolled out for Google pixel handset and later it was made available in 43 states.
Were Google Duplex Calls Real?
However, a new report from Newyork times surfacing on the internet suggests that this amazing feat may not have been so amazing after all. According to the report, 25% of Duplex calls were done by a real person and not the AI. Also, 15 percent of the calls were initiated by Duplex, however required a human to intervene at some point during the call. This means that only around 60% of calls made by duplex were truly automated.
The Times also decided to conduct its own experiment. Using Duplex, calls to more than a dozen restaurants were made and checked if they were in fact made by humans. The study concluded that three out of the four successful Duplex bookings were made by humans. (Some restaurants rejected other requests because the party size was too small, not because of some fault with the AI.)
If a Google assistant can’t figure out if who it is talking to is a spammer or how to complete the task at hand, it transfers calls to a human agent so that they can handle it. According to the company, human intervention is therefore necessary in making the technology efficient.
For example, if one were to ask Duplex to reserve them a table in a specific restaurant, the technology will try to reserve a table via the use of certain applications previously provided to the software. If no such options are available, the task will be transferred to a human agent.
Duplex for the web
Newly announced at Google I/O 2019 is Duplex for the Web. With this technology, Duplex can now fill out information and forms for users across websites. Often when booking things online, people have to navigate a number of pages, zoom in on the page and perform other necessary action to fill out the requested form. Duplex is impressively programmed to account for all these factors. For more information, see the video below.