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Google Duplex uses AI to mimic a real person to make appointments on your behalf

Creepy, but also ridiculously awesome.

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At this week’s I/O conference, Google gave a demo of Google Assistant’s newest capability: Google Duplex. With the tool, Google Assistant can make phone calls on your behalf. The result is stunning, heart-pounding, and yes, a little bit scary.

Google Duplex features a natural voice that’s casual and conversational. In other words, it’s different than anything we’ve heard before. You can watch for yourself above.

According to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Google Duplex is ideally suited for making “restaurant reservations, scheduling hair salon appointments, and getting holiday hours over the phone.”

What happens if something goes wrong during the conversation? Pichai explains:

We’re still developing this technology, and we want to work hard to get this right. 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.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, let’s be honest, this demo is breathtaking. The voice here is an improvement over current offerings such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Google Assistant in its present format.

Still, can we also admit this is also a little bit creepy and could have far-reaching and dangerous effects?

Asking Google to schedule a doctor’s appointment or make a reservation at your favorite restaurant sounds convenient. However, what happens when that voice is somehow manipulated and used to apply for an unauthorized mortgage or to learn the location of your teenage daughter?

It will be interesting to see where Google Duplex goes from here. Hopefully, we’ll hear more from Google about the security behind the tool in the coming days and months. In the meantime, the company has published a blog post with extra details and soundbites of Google Duplex in action.

Google Duplex isn’t the only topic being discussed at this year’s I/O conference. Changes to Google News and Google Maps have also been highlighted.

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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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