Details surrounding Google's new Duplex AI have been scarce outside of official previews, but leaks from a weekly Google staff meeting are shedding some light on the many questions raised at Google I/O.
A Google employee who spoke to Bloomberg said that at Google's weekly TGIF meeting executives gave employees a full demo a Duplex, which revealed two important facts that were missed in the Google I/O keynote that revealed it a week ago.
First, Google Duplex will identify itself as Google Assistant when it places calls. Second, it will inform humans on the other end that the call is being recorded (where legally applicable).
Bloomberg's Google source also said that Google executives made clear that the Duplex team was aware of, and considering, disclosure laws and ethical implications surrounding Duplex prior to the I/O demo.
Questions still unanswered
Google has been tight-lipped over Duplex. The only official Duplex news aside from the I/O presentation has been a Google AI blog entry discussing it, and now the TGIF meeting leak.
Google spokespeople declined to comment on Bloomberg's story, and further attempts to get more out of Google have been met with silence.
So what about Duplex is unknown, at least in terms of what businesses need to know to prepare for a wave of robot callers? For starters, no one quite knows how a Google Duplex call works from start to finish.
The demo calls shown by Google during I/O and as part of the blog entry linked above appear to have been edited to hide information that would identify recipients, but they also edited out how the actually call begins, namely how Duplex identifies itself and informs the listener that it is being recorded.
SEE: Research: Companies lack skills to implement and support AI and machine learning (Tech Pro Research)
Mashable tracked down one of the businesses recorded in a demo call and spoke to an employee there, who only said that yes, their business did take the call, and no, they weren't in on it.
Google has made no official statement on the demo calls, whether the recipients were told they were speaking to an AI, or whether they were told they were being recorded.
Until Google comes closer to releasing Duplex, or at least starts publishing more details about it, there's not much for businesses to go on. It is probably identifying itself, but we're not sure how. It should be notifying people they are being recorded, but there's no official word on that either.
Google said in its AI blog post that Duplex will have the end result of benefiting businesses by reducing no-shows, making online booking possible for businesses without that capability, ensuring updated online business info, and more.
What businesses should expect from Duplex, and how often they should assume they're talking to a robot, is anyone's guess. Google said it plans to start testing Duplex this summer, so the wait shouldn't be long.
The big takeaways for tech leaders:
- News leaked from an internal Google meeting reveals that Duplex, the company's new AI calling bot, will identify itself as such and also warn those in appropriate locations that they are being recorded.
- Google has been tight-lipped about Duplex and hasn't even confirmed the facts leaked from the meeting. Businesses should be prepared for unknown scenarios as Google Duplex begins rolling out this summer.
- Special report: How to implement AI and machine learning (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Google Duplex beat the Turing test: Are we doomed? (ZDNet)
- Google Assistant: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft vs Google: Expect bots to sound more human after Semantic Machines deal (ZDNet)
- Google Assistant will soon make your business calls, and other developments from I/O 2018 (TechRepublic)
- Alphabet chairman says Google Duplex passes Turing test in one specific way (CNET)
Brandon Vigliarolo has nothing to disclose. He does not hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Brandon writes about apps and software for TechRepublic. He's an award-winning feature writer who previously worked as an IT professional and served as an MP in the US Army.