Google's controversial human sounding AI is being tested for call centres

Google Duplex

Google Duplex

The AI system was first debuted at Google's I/O developer conference in May, where it was demonstrated making calls to local businesses to place reservations on behalf of Google Assistant users. Now, Google is looking to partner with companies that want to use its human-sounding Duplex AI for tasks such as fielding customer service calls or telemarketing, according to a report by The Information.

The company this afternoon denied The Information's report on "very early stage" testing of Duplex for call centers.

The robots on the other side of the customer support line could soon start to sound a lot more human.

We've already seen that Google Duplex does a fairly convincing job of being like a PA, and as such, there's no reason why for the simple stuff at least, it can be the agent too. As we shared last week, Duplex is created to operate in very specific use cases, and now we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers. Google says the main objective of Duplex is to use AI to call businesses on your behalf.

"It's important that we get the experience right, and we're taking a slow and measured approach as we incorporate learnings and feedback from our tests". That firm, an unnamed large insurance company, is reportedly interested in using the voice assistant to handle simple, straightforward customer service calls.

Google's promise that its current focus is on restaurant reservations may be a comfort to call-centre employees, but it's hard not to imagine the company taking an interest in the sector.

This report comes during a time when the cloud-based customer call-center industry is increasingly growing one that raked in $6.8 billion past year with no signs of slowing down. In fact, ethical concerns have apparently slowed down work on the product.

According to The Information, one "large insurance company" is already testing, but it's still in "early stages" and months from going live. After public outcryat the implication of people in the future not knowing whether they were talking to humans or machines, Google adapted the bot's introduction so it clearly explains it's not a human.

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