When Google Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated how the improved Google Assistant could make an appointment for a haircut by phoning up a hair salon and speaking to an actual person, the crowd at the recently held Google developer conference I/O 2018 went wild.
The digital AI helper sounded like a real person and reacted to questions like an actual person would, allegedly even fooling the person on the other end of the telephone line, who had no idea who (or what) she was talking to.
While Google has been working on the technology used to make the appointment with Google Assistant, called Google Duplex, for a number of years, its integration with Google Assistant is a recent addition to the service, and is still under development. Early testing of Duplex inside assistant is set to start this summer.
Assimilating artificial intelligence (AI) into digital helpers like Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri is an important part of integrating technology that understands us into our lives. In a blog post with more details about Duplex and more examples of the technology in action, Google said, “The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.”
The new developments with Google Assistant are not just aimed at professionals, but Google hopes it will make help everyone that uses it to plan their days without having to take time out of them to make appointments and schedule reservations. “We really want it to work in cases, say, if you’re a busy parent in the morning and your kid is sick and you want to call for a doctor’s appointment,” said Pichai.
Google claims that Duplex has performed very well in recent tests, with the Assistant reacting intelligently, even in cases where the conversation doesn’t stick closely to the given objective. In rare cases, the Assistant needs some human intervention, but according to Google, this is few and far between.