Google confirms its human-sounding AI won't take away call-center jobs

Isaac Cain
July 9, 2018

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.

When Google introduced Google Duplex, its AI assistant created to speak like a human, the company showed off how the average person could use the tech to save time making reservations and whatnot.

While there may be major profits awaiting these firms as the conquer call centres, they also come with a cost: humans will inevitably be bumped from the jobs.

Applying Google Duplex in call centers could be very lucrative for the search giant.

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.

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Google adopted the bot's introduction so it clearly explains it's not a human, but now it turns out that some big companies are in the very early stages of testing Google's technology for use in other applications, such as call centres. Another key distinction is how Duplex has more advanced conversational capabilities compared to competitors. A report from past year, again from The Information, claims that Amazon is planning to import the same natural language processing that powers Alexa into call centres. But Google - with all of its cloud offerings - is hedging on the advantage provided by its AI smarts.

Duplex could be used to handle "simple and repetitive customer calls while humans step in when the conversations get more complicated", according to the report.

Google, to be sure, has already retooled the way Duplex interacts on calls just a bit since showing it off at I/O.

There is precedent for Google making Duplex available to third-parties. Specifically, the report mentions an insurance company thinking about using Duplex to handle routine calls, and passing things off to a live operator in more complex situations.

However the company has admitted that the ethical concerns that overshadowed the original presentation have slowed work on the project, this person said.

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