Google just showed off Google Duplex, an AI system designed to accomplish real world tasks over the phone.
The really exciting part? The system, which was announced at the Google I/O (opens in new tab) developers' conference, has been made to make "the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine."
What that means is that Google Duplex can automatically make reservations on your behalf, by dialling up the establishment in question (such as a restaurant) and then conversing with the real person on the other end of the line to make the booking.
Don't believe it? Well, watch the video below and be amazed.
Pretty cool, right?
Naturally, as explained in a Google Duplex post over on the Google AI blog (opens in new tab), there are many challenges to getting a system like this to work, ranging from the complexity of casual, colloquial human speech, through high background noise or distortion on a phone call, and how and if the AI is identified as non-human. ("Hello, restaurant worker, this is Google calling you!")
Google Duplex can deal with these issues as at its core is a recurrent neural network (RNN), which has been trained via a massive quantity of anonymized phone calls. Partner this deep learning with Google's automatic speech recognition tech, as well as features from the audio, the history of the conversation, and the parameters of the conversation, and you end up with Duplex.
Despite that demonstration at Google I/O (opens in new tab) being really rather impressive, we're still naturally a little sceptical here at T3, having been burned in the past by promises of AI automatisms. That said, if anyone can pull it off then right now, then Google sure is in a prime position to do so.
And, if it does, just think how useful it could be. Want to cancel that expensive and ill-advised gym subscription that you now never use? Google Duplex could handle that for you, allowing you to dodge the coercive sales rep and instead get on with your day.
"OK, Google, call the gym and cancel my subscription and don't take no for an answer."
Lead image credit: Getty