Google Assistant makes a phone call and the world is divided

At the ongoing Google I/O developer conference, one feature stands out – Google Duplex. With this feature, Google Assistant can make a call on your behalf and do the needful.

They demoed the same on stage. First, the AI assistant called a salon and made a haircut appointment. Whereas in the next demo, Assitant dialed a restaurant number for booking seats for four people. While the crowd was left thrilled and excited, the tech community or should we say the internet people, are divided in half.

Google Duplex – the age of Ultron

You can be on either side of the coin – embrace the achievements of AI or bash Google for taking things too far and curb back. And trust us, both are legit this time around.

Let’s start with the pros of this AI from Google. No matter what you think, you must be stunned to watch the conversation between a robot and a human. The human at the other end never realized it was talking to a bot. It’s no mean achievement and kudos to Google for putting all research to test.

This feature can save us a lot of time from mundane tasks. You can carry on with your life, while Google Assistant handling simpler things. Just ask the assistant to make a booking at a restaurant nearby and you are done. No need to find or dial the number, and have the not-so-required conversation. Isn’t that great!!

On the flip side, things have come to a point when the fear of AI taking over seems closer than ever. The call to the salon and restaurant was so natural with the “hmm’s” and “ah’s” that the person on the other end never realized it wasn’t a human. It’s Google liability to let the other person know that the caller is a bot.

No one would appreciate talking to a bot thinking it’s a human. But, if the bot starts like “Hey, I am Google Assistant making a call on behalf”, the respondent might just hang up, bring the whole purpose of AI down.

A thin line is needed to be drawn right now between the bots and humans. The tech is definitely awesome, but it brings the fear of misusage bigger than ever. With so much data about our life, speech pattern, and what not, in the hands of Assistant, things might turn ugly. There is no reason to believe that in near future the assistant might mimic your accent and voice to do stuff you never intended to. It won’t be cool of the assistant to handle your family and friends call.

Is that the risk we are willing to take, and how much further it can it go? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Pankaj U

Pankaj is a tech blogger with interests in mobile, PC, apps and more.

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