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Phone-Based AI Assistants

'Google Duplex' is Responsive AI That Can Book Appointments on the Phone

— May 9, 2018 — Tech
As much as smartphones nowadays accentuate the "smart" much more than the "phone", telephone calls are still an important part of many modern exchanges, and the new Google Duplex AI system has the potential to automate even those expressly human interactions. The program, which was announced at Google's recent I/O conference, is capable of making phone calls to book reservations at businesses using an indistinguishably human voice.

Google Duplex relies on the company's recurrent neural network, or RNN, to process the majority of the decision making that's required when making a call for reservations. Such a call might seem simple, but it actually requires a surprising amount of thought (although much of that thinking happens unconsciously for humans). The program needs to be able to handle things like elaborations (e.g. "for next Friday?" "when?" "Friday the 17th"), interruptions ("the number is 416--" "sorry say that again"), and more.

Duplex isn't yet available for consumers, having just been introduced to the public after extensive trials. However, Google hopes to eventually sync it with Google Assistant. This would mean that consumers could simply ask Google Assistant to make a haircut appointment, and it would implement Duplex to place calls automatically.