What Google isn’t telling us about its ‘Duplex’ AI demo

“Google made headlines by demonstrating an AI-powered voice assistant that made haircut and restaurant reservations, without betraying that it isn’t human,” Dan Primack reports for Axios. “But we have questions about the demos, which purported to be recordings of calls with real businesses.”

“Google told both developers and investors that it has created something remarkable, thus increasing its profile and value,” Primack reports. “When questioned further, however, it will not provide basic evidence to back up its boasts.”

Here’s the demo, as presented at Google’s developer conference by CEO Sundar Pichai:

“When you call a business, the person picking up the phone almost always identifies the business itself (and sometimes gives their own name as well). But that didn’t happen when the Google assistant called these ‘real’ businesses,” Primack reports. “Axios asked Google for the name of the hair salon or restaurant, in order to verify both that the businesses exist and that the calls were not pre-planned. We also said that we’d guarantee, in writing, not to publicly identify either establishment (so as to prevent them from receiving unwanted attention). A longtime Google spokeswoman declined to provide either name.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Google Duplex Duplicitous.

Something is rotten in Mountain View.

Why not demo it live? Why only play recordings? When is it rolling out to actual customers? Was there a hands-on after the event where members of the media or conference attendees could talk to Duplex? It’s totally credible that Google would be the first to achieve something like Duplex, but the fact that all they did — as far as I’ve seen — was play a recording just seems off. It feels like a con.John Gruber, Daring Fireball, May 11, 2018


  1. the funny thing is Sundar had to emphasize ” that was a real call” after each recording which can be made easily without having any kind of real life device demo. I call this fake. sorry.

    1. Considering that Duplex is not a device demo (unless you want to somehow move Google’s AI Cloud servers) a recording may not have been the worst choice.

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