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Some initial thoughts on the Google Duplex demo

Wed May 9, 2018

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The Verge also covered this well: www.theverge.com/2018/5/9/17334658/google-ai-phone-call-assistant-duplex-ethical-social-implications and they have a quote from Joanna Bryson, who talked at SAGE just before Christmas. Her quote is finished out with the following.

There are no obvious answers to these questions, but as Bryson points out, Google is at least doing the world a service by bringing attention to this technology. It’s not the only company developing these services, and it certainly won’t be the only one to use them. “It’s a huge deal that they’re showcasing it,” says Bryson. “It’s important that they keep doing demos and videos so people can see this stuff is happening […] What we really need is an informed citizenry.

There have been some immediate reactions to this, one one side or another. I’m not sure where I stand on this at this moment in time.

I think it’s philosophically very challenging and not immediately clear cut.

We talk so frequently to call centre staff whose will is constrained by the scripts that they are forced to read through, is this a potential liberation from that kind of work? At some point those answering the calls will also be bots, is this the start of the creation of the intelligent deamons that process interactions for us on the net, and if so is that a bad thing? Is voice becoming a universal API to systems, that don’t have to be tightly programmed - the very definition of being liberal with what inputs you accept, but stick with what outputs your produce.

Whatever we are seeing here, this is really interesting.

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