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Google Duplex and the Rise of AI

 

 

You’ve likely spoken with some form of artificial intelligence before, and chances are it’s been through your phone. These programs come with cute names like Siri or Bixby, but choppy language and misunderstandings expose the fact that these programs are simply that…programs. But AI keeps getting better and better, and with its newest iteration, Google Duplex, the lines between human and program are beginning to blur.

This May, Google debuted Duplex at Google I/O, its annual developer conference. The presentation began with Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai asking Duplex to schedule a hair appointment. Duplex dials the number and a woman’s voice answers and asks how she can help, Duplex responds:

“Hi, I’m calling to book a woman’s hair cut appointment for a client, um, I’m looking for something on May 3?”

The woman at the hair salon asks to hold for one second, to which Duplex replies:

“Mmm-hmm.”

Duplex then goes on to have a conversation with the woman at the hair salon to schedule an appointment and then hangs up. The phone call was impressive, but most notably, the woman never realized she was speaking to a computer program. The naturalness and ease of Duplex is years ahead of what’s currently offered on your phone.

In conjunction with the presentation, Google released a white paper detailing how Duplex works. In it there are multiple examples of Duplex booking appointments and reservations while handling obstacles like interruptions and accents.

The prevalence of AI will continue to grow as the use of “smart” devices has increased dramatically. Voicebot.ai, a publication dedicated to voice assistant technologies, reports over 20% of US adults own “smart” speakers than can house AI programs. Additionally, the Pew Research Center reports 77% of Americans own smartphones, many of which house AI programs such as Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri.

As AI becomes increasingly common, programs like Duplex are poised to fuel economic growth in a way that drastically changes the nature of our workplaces. Receptionists and assistants aren’t the only jobs that will be impacted by advances in AI, nearly every industry will be transformed.

By 2035 AI could double economic growth rates according to a report on the future of AI from the consulting firm Accenture. AI is projected to increase labor productivity up to 40 percent, which will free up people to use their time for high-value tasks and increase operational efficiencies.

While the upside for AI to propel change and growth is huge, many fear it will bring increased unemployment and further technological detachment. Regardless of these fears, demand for AI products continues to grow and will certainly shape our future, whether we realize it or not.

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