“Google shocked many onlookers earlier this year when, during the keynote at its I/O developer conference, the company unveiled Duplex, a new AI system that can make phone calls on your behalf,” Karissa Bell writes for Mashable. “Now, after a lot of questions and much hand-wringing about the ethics of such a system, the company is nearly ready to start testing it for real.”

“Google announced it will begin testing Duplex ‘in the coming weeks’ among a small group of users and businesses,” Bell writes. “Before it does, though, the company let a small group of reporters experience a Duplex call firsthand at a restaurant near Google’s Mountain View headquarters.”

“It was a short, highly controlled demo. But after chatting with Google’s AI for approximately 90 seconds, I walked away less impressed with the fact that Google eliminated the need for humans to make 90-second phone conversations themselves, than that the company had found a way to make robo-calls tolerable in the first place,” Bell writes. “I can confirm that the call was just as human-sounding as the recorded calls we heard during Google’s demo at I/O, complete with plenty of ‘umms’ and ‘uhhs’ …Besides being easily tripped up by my “okays” and a couple of awkward pauses, the call was, actually, surprisingly smooth despite my best efforts to trip it up.”

“Each Duplex call begins with a quick disclosure: ‘I’m Google’s automated booking service so I’ll record the call,'” Bell writes. “The exact wording of that disclosure could change over time, but it will always alert the person on the other end of the phone that it’s an automated system and the call is being recorded, Google says.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re glad that each Duplex call begins with a quick disclosure, so we can hang up on it.