Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
IT&Software | By Alfonso Woods

Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

Google has previously had to acknowledge criticism Duplex faced when it was first unveiled, particularly the ethical quandaries of building an AI system that convincingly masquerades as a human caller.

But according to The Information, companies also want to see that arrangement flipped on its head, as they consider handing partial control of their call centers over to Duplex. Duplex is created to operate in very specific use cases, and now we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers.

We're now focused on consumer use cases for the Duplex technology where we can help people get things done, rather than applying it to potential enterprise use cases.

Google's voice-calling Duplex bot - which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls - is reported to be attractive to call centres, meant to assist humans with customer queries.

The Information report, coupled with a flurry of media coveragewhen Google let reporters test the technology, shows Google's confidence in the new technology as a potential offering to surpass its cloud competitors selling AI tools.

If Google can find its way into the business of automated phone calls for companies, it could creep its way into a massive profit centre.

This report comes during a time when the cloud-based customer call-center industry is increasingly growing one that raked in $6.8 billion past year with no signs of slowing down.

According to The Information, one "large insurance company" is already testing, but it's still in "early stages" and months from going live.

Historically, one of the biggest obstacles to eliminating the human aspect of customer call interactions is the fact that the AI kinda sucks to deal with. Suddenly the world was anxious that people in the future would not know whether they were talking to humans or machines. Backlash eventually made Google promise that Duplex will tell people they are speaking with AI, but the company still has a way to go to ease everyone's worries.

What Google CEO Sundar Pichai didn't mention during the initial debut of Duplex at I/O in May, the site notes, "is that the technology could be more than just a nifty trick to help users save a bit of time on reservations".

IF talking to call centre drones wasn't irritating enough, Google has announced plans to robotise them.

Google in recent weeks invited tech journalists out to restaurants on both coasts to put Duplex through the paces in that setting.

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