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Now neutered, Google Duplex is getting ready to make its first calls

The service has changed a bit since being denounced as “creepy” during the Google I/O conference in May.

google duplex less creepy
Image: HBO

Google confirmed today, June 27, that it will start testing its Google Duplex-powered calls with “trusted testers and select businesses” in New York and San Francisco “in the coming weeks.” However, the system could look much different than the one that was announced earlier this year, according to Engadget.

On paper, Google Duplex sounds like a useful tool. Using AI, the service can allow Google Assistant to assist with “restaurant reservations, scheduling hair salon appointments, and getting holiday hours over the phone.”

In reality, the tool is creepy, as Google’s presentation at I/O in May showed:

Perhaps it’s because of this creep factor that Google is changing Duplex before its first public tests.

As Engadget explains,

When Google kicks off its testing in earnest this summer, it plans to call businesses and ask for their holiday hours. That’s it. Meanwhile, business owners wary of receiving robo-calls (albeit highly advanced ones) will be able to opt-out of receiving Assistant calls entirely, though for now, Google isn’t sure how it’s going to make that option available to users.

They continue,

And to be clear: if you’re, say, a maître d’ fielding a call from Google Assistant, you’ll definitely know you’re not dealing with another human. At the beginning of each Duplex call, the Assistant identifies itself and tells the person on the other end that it’s recording the conversation — you know, for data to help train the AI model further.

Anything that makes Google Duplex less creepy is a step in the right direction. Still, the upcoming field test almost sounds like Google could be taking steps to never to release the service, at least in the form it originally planned.

What say you? Should the Google Duplex tool be made available to everyone or killed before being released to the public? 

For other Google news, see: 

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Bryan considers himself a well-rounded techie, having written articles for MakeUseOf, KnowTechie, AppAdvice, iDownload Blog. When he's not writing, he's being a single dad and rooting for his alma mater, Penn State, or cheering on the Patriots.

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