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posted by martyb on Friday May 11 2018, @02:54AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Adam-Selene dept.

Google has demonstrated an AI assistant that can make phone calls on your behalf, speaking to the human on the other end of the line. The company showed off the capability by playing a recording of a phone call it claims was between its chatbot and a hair salon:

Onstage at I/O 2018, Google showed off a jaw-dropping new capability of Google Assistant: in the not too distant future, it's going to make phone calls on your behalf. CEO Sundar Pichai played back a phone call recording that he said was placed by the Assistant to a hair salon. The voice sounded incredibly natural; the person on the other end had no idea they were talking to a digital AI helper. Google Assistant even dropped in a super casual "mmhmmm" early in the conversation.

Pichai reiterated that this was a real call using Assistant and not some staged demo. "The amazing thing is that Assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation," he said. "We've been working on this technology for many years. It's called Google Duplex."

There is already a debate about whether this is a good idea:

The selfishness of Google Duplex

Google's AI sounds like a human on the phone — should we be worried?

Google Duplex: Good or Evil?


Original Submission

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A number of soylentils have written in to let us know that Google is opening up the possibility of being evil by eliminating it from their code of conduct. You've been warned.

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Google's unofficial motto has long been the simple phrase "don't be evil." But that's over, according to the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The phrase was removed sometime in late April or early May, archives hosted by the Wayback Machine show.

[...] The updated version of Google's code of conduct still retains one reference to the company's unofficial motto—the final line of the document is still: "And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right – speak up!"

April 21 vs. May 4.

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Google Starts "Limited Testing" of Google Duplex AI System 17 comments

Google Duplex really works and testing begins this summer

In a restaurant in Mountain View, California yesterday, Google gave several small groups of journalists a chance to demo Duplex. If you don't recall, Duplex is the AI system designed to make human-sounding voice calls on your behalf so as to automate things like booking restaurant tables and hair appointments. In the demo, we saw what it would be like for a restaurant to receive a phone call — and in fact each of us in turn took a call from Duplex as it tried to book a reservation.

The briefings were in service of the news that Google is about to begin limited testing "in the coming weeks." If you're hoping that means you'll be able to try it yourself, sorry: Google is starting with "a set of trusted tester users," according to Nick Fox, VP of product and design for the Google Assistant. It will also be limited to businesses that Google has partnered with rather than any old restaurant.

The rollout will be phased, in other words. First up will be calls about holiday hours, then restaurant reservations will come later this summer, and then finally hair cut appointments will be last. Those are the only three domains that Google has trained Duplex on.

The demos we saw had many of the same elements that made the original demonstration at Google IO so impressive: the voice sounded much more human than normal, complete with ums and ahhs. It also featured something we didn't hear last May: each call started with an explicit statement that the call was being recorded. There were a few variations on the disclosure, but they all included some indication that you were talking to a machine and the call was being recorded. For example, one call began with "Hi, I'm calling to make a reservation. I'm Google's automated booking service, so I'll record the call. Uh, can I book a table for Sunday the first?"

Also at Ars Technica.

Previously: Google Duplex: an AI that Can Make Phone Calls on Your Behalf


Original Submission

Google Denies that its Duplex AI Will be Used at Call Centers 45 comments

Google's Duplex AI could kill the call center

Google is reportedly shopping its Duplex AI system around as a tool for call centers, according to The Information, including a large insurance company.

Duplex would handle simple calls for the insurance company, and if the customer started asking complex questions the bot can't handle a human would step in, according to the report. However, it's unlikely that AI research will cease after mastering simple conversations, meaning call centers could one day be largely automated using this technology.

[...] Update: A Google spokesperson reiterated that Duplex is only being tested as a consumer technology for now, and that the company isn't testing it for enterprise. The entire statement is below:

We're currently focused on consumer use cases for the Duplex technology and we aren't testing Duplex with any enterprise clients. As we shared last week, Duplex is designed to operate in very specific use cases, and currently we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers. It's important that we get the experience right and we're taking a slow and measured approach as we incorporate learnings and feedback from our tests.

Also at Techspot and CNET.

Previously: Google Duplex: an AI that Can Make Phone Calls on Your Behalf
Google Starts "Limited Testing" of Google Duplex AI System


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:00AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:00AM (#678249)

    I didn't say you could talk!

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday May 11 2018, @04:43PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @04:43PM (#678460) Journal

      Sir, you are confusing Siri with Google Assistant.

      --
      The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors him. Prov 14:31
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:24AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:24AM (#678251)

    We already have AI that rejects the resume of every qualified applicant. Now we can use AI to replace every recruiter job. No longer will fraudulent companies need to employ stupid Indian recruiters to call unemployed people on the phone and tell them all about fake jobs that don't exist at companies that aren't hiring anyone. The only problem is we'll still need to employ Indian idiots to do all those in person fake interviews of candidates to keep up the charade of pretending the tech industry actually exists. I know! Let's use AI to do fake skype interviews! Brilliant!!!!! The moron investors will keep funding our fraud!!!!!!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:29AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:29AM (#678253)

    The robots came for the factory jerbs, and there's a robot technician training program at the local community college. Of course, there will be far fewer robot technicians than manual laborers. (Thus freeing up plenty of time, all of which the working class has generously donated to the ruling class in gratitude. It must be voluntary, because only filthy, lazy hippies like teachers organize to assert their ownership of the freed time.)

    The robots have almost come for the driving jerbs. Now the robots come for the call center jerbs. Just imagine how much more free time the working class will have to donate to their betters!

    dumb fucks

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:35AM (7 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:35AM (#678254)

      Why won't the poor people just die. No living person earns $13 per hour. That's pocket lint money. At $13 per hour you're just dying in slow motion. Poor people should solve poverty by killing themselves quickly and as soon as possible.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:43AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @03:43AM (#678256)

        $13 an hour, 20 hours a week is more than enough to fund rent, food, internet, and bus fare. Just don't get sick or injured.

        • (Score: 4, Funny) by realDonaldTrump on Friday May 11 2018, @05:33AM (2 children)

          by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Friday May 11 2018, @05:33AM (#678272) Homepage Journal

          We have to take care of people. If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I believe in universal healthcare. I'm a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one. We should not hear so many stories of families ruined by healthcare expenses.

          As far as single payer, it works in Canada. It works incredibly well in Scotland. Doctors might be paid less than they are now, as is the case in Canada, but they would be able to treat more patients because of the reduction in their paperwork.

          A friend of mine was in Scotland recently. He got very, very sick. They took him by ambulance and he was there for four days. He was really in trouble, and they released him and he said, "Where do I pay?" And they said, "There’s no charge." Not only that, he said it was like great doctors, great care. I mean we could have a great system in this country.

          The Canadian plan also helps Canadians live longer and healthier than Americans. There are fewer medical lawsuits, less loss of labor to sickness, and lower costs to companies paying for the medical care of their employees. If the program were in place in Massachusetts in 1999 it would have reduced administrative costs by $2.5 million. We need, as a nation, to re-examine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing.

          Believe me, I am going to take care of everybody. I don't care if it costs me votes or not. Everybody's going to be taken care of much better than they're taken care of now.

          • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Friday May 11 2018, @06:48AM (1 child)

            by Dr Spin (5239) on Friday May 11 2018, @06:48AM (#678280)

            We have to take care of people. If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over.

            Its not over til the fat lady sings (Madame La Guillotine).

            If you fuck the poor, they have a big incentive to kill you. If they are in danger of dying, they have nothing to lose.

            This is not news - its already happening.

            You might want to read up on the French Revolution, Al Quaida, Boko Haram, ISIS, etc.

            --
            Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @01:24PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @01:24PM (#678348)

              Hmm. I am not well versed in the events of the 18th and 19th century in Europe. Is the French revolution unlike the others listed? My naïve understanding might have me list the American Revolution beside Al Quaida, Boko Haram, and ISIS as revolutions that came about with foreign material aid (France in the former most case, USA in the 3 latter cases). Did the French Revolution have substantial foreign material support?

              So I suppose I must take your advice and do some reading.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @05:13AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @05:13AM (#678268)

        So, basically, those horrible luddites were right, in the end.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @01:46PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @01:46PM (#678355)

          It could also be that the Luddites suffered a massive capitalist propaganda campaign to portray their protest over low wages and the alienation from production inherent in factory labor (sometimes expressed contrapositively with terms such as workmanship, seems to me) as an anti-technology movement, which misses the larger impetus of engaging in acts of sabotage (given the etymology suggesting the word is derived from the act of throwing wooden shoes into factory equipment¹) being the desire for a workers' revolution.

          ¹ Wikipedia disagrees [wikipedia.org] with this etymology: "It is sometimes said that some workers (from Netherlands for some, canuts from Lyon for others, luddites in England, etc.) used to throw their wooden shoes, called "sabots" (clogs) in the machines to break them, but this is not supported by the etymology."

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday May 11 2018, @04:47PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @04:47PM (#678467) Journal

        Why won't the poor people just die.

        Because assisted suicide is illegal. That's why.

        In civilized countries we don't want people ending their miserable existence bringing a premature end to their pain and suffering.

        --
        The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors him. Prov 14:31
  • (Score: 2) by black6host on Friday May 11 2018, @03:59AM (12 children)

    by black6host (3827) on Friday May 11 2018, @03:59AM (#678259) Journal

    The tech may be getting good, but we humans will soon pick up the subtle differences. My bet is that it's going to become a cat and mouse game.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Friday May 11 2018, @04:16AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Friday May 11 2018, @04:16AM (#678261)

      Better yet, sell a phone app that tells you when the voice on the line is a robot. And another to optimize fucking with it.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by Bot on Friday May 11 2018, @05:17AM

      by Bot (3902) on Friday May 11 2018, @05:17AM (#678269) Journal

      Why should they bother to distinguish them?
      - "you can shove your fucking offer up your digital ass, you dirty cunt bot!"
      - "actually, sir, I am human..."
      - "oh sorry... then you can shove your fucking offer up your ass, you dirty cunt!"
      - "BTW are you a bot, sir?"
      - "no, but I like to play one on the phone."

      --
      Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 0, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday May 11 2018, @05:22AM (4 children)

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday May 11 2018, @05:22AM (#678270) Homepage

      Analyzed.

      The first example was ditz-to-ditz conversation, so in a sense both of them really weren't paying attention to each other. I'm also guessing that the bot was programmed with the callee's voice without the callee's knowledge. The second example was hipster to non-native English speaker conversation - as easy as shootin' Vietnamese fish sauce in a barrel. The third "complex conversation" example was a glorified version of those chat bots which occasionally swap the "-ng" in for example "working" to "workign" and provided no actual back-and forth conversation.

      However, there is one test, no matter how convincing the voice on the other side may be, to determine what is and is not an AI: spontaneously ask it if Sergei Brin is a womanizing Jew. It will tactfully but immediately terminate the conversation rather than offer a nervous chuckle and carry on. Voice bots such as this one have in lesser forms been around for the better part of a decade and are, misleadingly, programmed to deny that they are bots and may even chuckle at the question, in much the same way that customer service chat bots respond to the same question with a "no :)"

      But there is one question which will get rid of bots complex beyond your imagination: The Jewish Question.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @06:50AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @06:50AM (#678281)

        I am Jewish Bot, you insensitive clod.

        • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday May 11 2018, @07:25AM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday May 11 2018, @07:25AM (#678290) Homepage

          Which leads to another important question, or, rather, an answer.

          Gay Jewish Robots. In that particular instance AT&T had a good idea of what a Black man should sound like. It was primitive but from the perspective of what a Black man's voice should sound like. Now, I shall show you.

      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday May 11 2018, @11:45AM (1 child)

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @11:45AM (#678315) Journal

        The Final Solution: hang up.

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by RedBear on Friday May 11 2018, @06:43AM (3 children)

      by RedBear (1734) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @06:43AM (#678279)

      The tech may be getting good, but we humans will soon pick up the subtle differences. My bet is that it's going to become a cat and mouse game.

      Alternative hypothesis: The new voices are so natural that you'll start to think some of the real people you talk to on the phone are actually bots.

      I'm sorry but the voices I heard during the Google I/O keynote were so natural sounding that most people will no longer be able to tell the difference. The feminine voice on the phone call with the hairdresser had a thorough understanding of everything the hairdresser said, used very natural word inflections, and even inserted things like "mm-hmm" and "um" at appropriate spots. And there are already at least six of these new natural voices. Within a few years there will no doubt be hundreds of such voices developed. You won't be able to recognize more than a few of them as non-human even if you hear them frequently. Because of the machine learning and AI behind them, they will constantly be adapting their speech patterns, so there will no longer be anything unnaturally static about the voice to make it recognizably mechanical.

      It's really the beginning of the end of being able to tell whether you're being spoken to by a machine. I honestly didn't expect this day to arrive before the visual simulations were perfected, but here it is.

      --
      ¯\_ʕ◔.◔ʔ_/¯ LOL. I dunno. I'm just a bear.
      ... Peace out. Got bear stuff to do. 彡ʕ⌐■.■ʔ
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @06:53AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @06:53AM (#678282)

        you'll start to think some of the real people you talk to on the phone are actually bots.

        Think? I know damn well that half "real" the people I speak to on the phone are bots. However, I refuse to give names in order to protect the guilty.
        (In case you are asking: No ... my mother-in-law is dead).

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @07:26AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @07:26AM (#678291)

        This is going to be great with sex bots.

        Mmmmhmmm...
        Ummmm....
        Oh yeaaaahhh...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @02:08PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @02:08PM (#678380)

        sounds like it may be easier to just use their webpage to set up an appointment. maybe there will be an app for that, rather than this whole human imitating thing.

        chances are good that I personally will just stop using the phone to make and receive calls, once it is clear that the people I used to talk to are too lazy, don't care, or were fired and replaced by a google bot. I dont want to help google profit with this next type of outsourcing, no matter the convenience. it means that part of what i can do is readily replaced; it isnt about costs, its about actually being a part of society in even a small way.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday May 11 2018, @04:50PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @04:50PM (#678471) Journal

      Soon enough small businesses will be able to buy an AI box provided by Microsoft that answers phone calls placed by Google Duplex.

      --
      The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors him. Prov 14:31
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by riT-k0MA on Friday May 11 2018, @05:46AM (1 child)

    by riT-k0MA (88) on Friday May 11 2018, @05:46AM (#678274)
  • (Score: 2, Offtopic) by realDonaldTrump on Friday May 11 2018, @07:00AM (6 children)

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Friday May 11 2018, @07:00AM (#678284) Homepage Journal

    It's great that they have "tapes." But doing a live show, it's much harder to get it PERFECTO.

    Let me tell you, I have a daughter. She married a nice -- and very rich -- Jewish boy. And folks compliment me all the time on how well I raised her, what a cute couple they make. They don't see all the dummies & losers she went out with before Jared. And maybe these "tapes" are like that. Who knows how many TERRIBLE phone calls Google had? Like the call I had with Malcolm from Australia. Worst conversation ever!!!

    • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday May 11 2018, @11:08AM (5 children)

      by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @11:08AM (#678308)

      Why has no one done a Trumpbot.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @11:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @11:59AM (#678320)

        What? You think that our own realDonaldTrump is a person? No one could possibly stay in character that long...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @02:04PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @02:04PM (#678375)

        That would be AS - Artificial Stupidity.

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday May 11 2018, @04:55PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 11 2018, @04:55PM (#678477) Journal

          AI - Artificial Insanity.

          --
          The one who oppresses the poor person insults his Maker, but one who is kind to the needy honors him. Prov 14:31
      • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday May 11 2018, @02:38PM (1 child)

        by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday May 11 2018, @02:38PM (#678392)
        --
        "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
        • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Friday May 11 2018, @02:42PM

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday May 11 2018, @02:42PM (#678395)

          I enjoy that when I entered in "weather", about 25% of the time it talked about the weather, 25% of the time it talked about "weather underground" (not sure if its the terrorist group or the weather prediction site) and 50% of the time it used it as the word "whether". Seems pretty accurate to me.

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 11 2018, @02:07PM (1 child)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 11 2018, @02:07PM (#678378) Journal

    I want an AI that's programmed to mess with telemarketers and other nuisance callers. I want one I can plant into their systems so that they're constantly calling themselves, and trying to sell each other vacation deals to Florida. I want one that will route all such calls to members of Congress and lobbying firms on K Street. I want one that will hide out on the smartphones of the elites and capture voice, video, and audio of their pecadillos and send them to their partners' divorce attorneys.

    That is an AI future I can wrap my head around.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @04:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11 2018, @04:18PM (#678439)
      HowTo: Pwn Telemarketers with Lenny
      https://web.archive.org/web/20171101181208/http://www.crosstalksolutions.com:80/howto-pwn-telemarketers-with-lenny/

      Asterisk Telemarketer Torture
      https://www.voip-info.org/asterisk-telemarketer-torture

      Five great ways to annoy telemarketers with Asterisk
      https://iomem.com/archives/10-Five-great-ways-to-annoy-telemarketers-with-Asterisk.html

      Mango's way of blocking telemarketers with a PAP2T
      https://web.archive.org/web/20170429072512/http://www.dslreports.com:80/forum/r21839925-Mango-s-way-of-blocking-telemarketers-with-a-PAP2T
  • (Score: 2) by legont on Friday May 11 2018, @03:16PM

    by legont (4179) on Friday May 11 2018, @03:16PM (#678414)

    They demonstrated "my" robot talking to "their" human. What is way more useful is my robot to get their robot to get a human on the line for me. Easier to implement as well. Android app anybody?

    A longer term dev plan would be to get 3rd level support and/or a real manager.

    --
    "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
  • (Score: 2) by SunTzuWarmaster on Friday May 11 2018, @05:03PM

    by SunTzuWarmaster (3971) on Friday May 11 2018, @05:03PM (#678482)

    Today I will call my insurance company to ask essentially one question - "Where is the money?"
    I will give them all my personal information.
    I will give them all my case files/numbers.
    They will look up all this crap in the system.
    They will then say one of two things: 1) the check is in the mail (unlikely), or 2) We hit a snag and are putting the check in the mail.

    I would be happy to have my bot call their bot.

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