When Google first introduced Duplex, the digital assistant for phone calls, in May, some thought it sounded too human. Others worried that he would record the calls without their knowing it.
Regarding Duplex’s tendency to use “eh” and “ah” tags, Google points out that this technique improved the assistant’s ability to book appointments by interacting more naturally with humans on the other side of the line.
The technological giant provided this and other details in a demonstration to the press on Tuesday before its gradual release in the coming months.
The company goes through difficulties to ensure that Duplex complies with a set of principles around artificial intelligence that it unveiled earlier this month. Among them, only develop tools with a social benefit and that incorporate privacy in their design.
“We’re not trying to fool people,” Scott Huffman, vice president of engineering at Google Assistant, told reporters. To demonstrate the point, he reproduced a recording of a previous Duplex prototype where a male voice with a British accent tried to make a reservation for four at a restaurant and filled an uncomfortable silence with a “hello” out of place.
“The system did not sound very good,” Huffman said. “People hung up. They were uncomfortable with the conversation. The team asked ‘How do we make it sound more natural?’ In doing so, with each step, we saw that our success rate went up. ”
Now Duplex can make appointments at beauty salons, hotel reservations or review shop hours during vacations, the only tasks that are scheduled to be completed, four out of five times without human intervention.
Merchants can choose not to accept Duplex calls online, although that means Duplex will not update information in Google Maps after checking data such as schedules. People who ask Duplex to make calls can limit what they share with businesses, for example, not providing e-mail.