Last week Google demoed a new feature this week called “Duplex” that shows a huge jump in progress of capabilities of artificial intelligence.
You can watch a brief demo from the keynote here:
Essentially, it’s an artificial intelligence (AI) that can hold limited conversations and sound completely human – even down to quirks and stammers, like adding in “ums” and pauses where the AI is “thinking” or “processing a question” from the person it is talking to.
Because I’m a giant nerd I’ve long talked about wanting a true digital assistant like you see in comics and the movies. Seeing this kind of advancements in AI and humanized speech is amazing, and I want to see the limits and boundaries pushed.
At the same time, this is all very scary and in a very ethical grey area and needs to be handled with care.
We should make AI sound different from humans for the same reason we put a smelly additive in normally odorless natural gas. https://t.co/2dYmeb70AC
— Travis Korte (@traviskorte) May 8, 2018
In an era of real fake news (meaning not what Donald Trump touts as “fake news”) AI developers and technology companies have a responsibility to society so that people are made painfully aware that they are speaking to a machine or being duped.
This isn’t really necessary when interacting with Siri or Google Assistant. You know you are speaking to a device either in your home, in your hand, or on your wrist. However in the demo by Google the AI spoke to a person over the phone and never identified itself as a machine.
For the purposes of the demo (at these two that were shown) I don’t think it’s that big of a deal as some people are making it out to be, but if – when – this or something like this technology is ever released to the public I would hope that there would be clear standards followed by anyone in the space, almost an AI council and would govern themselves openly.
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
— Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park
Late this week Google did say that this AI will now identify itself when speaking to people.
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