Google Duplex, the artificial intelligence that calls by phone

Presented during the first day of Google I/O 2018, it perfectly replicates the human voice, complete with interruptions

It was one of the many surprises that emerged during Google I/O 2018, a conference dedicated to developers and engineers interested in Big G's products. To present it was the CEO of the Mountain View company, Sundar Pichai, as if to confirm that this is one of the features on which Google intends to invest heavily in the years to come.

It's called Google Duplex and promises to save a lot of time by performing useful but somehow "mechanical" actions for us. This is yet another marvel of artificial intelligence developed in the secret rooms of Mountain View and that should soon be integrated with other features already present within Google Assistant, the personal voice assistant of Big G. But, exactly what is Google Duplex and how come it has attracted all this attention to itself? Let's find out together.

What is Google Duplex and how does it work

As you can read in the post-conference press releases released by big G, Google Duplex is an extension of Google Assistant (the artificial intelligence voice assistant that we find both on Android smartphones and in smart speakers like Google Home) that will be tested in the United States starting in summer 2018. What attracts the most attention is the "specialization" of Google Duplex: it is designed and built to make "mechanical" calls instead of the smartphone owner or the smart speaker.

As explained - and shown - during Google I/O 2018, Duplex can be used to make restaurant reservations, arrange appointments and much more. Sure, it won't be able to carry on conversations that are too long or that go beyond the task assigned to it, but it will be super useful for replacing the phone handset in case we're in a hurry. Using it, on the other hand, is very simple: just tell it the contact you want to call, give it instructions about the type of appointment and the times at which we want it to be held, and that's it. At that point it will be Google Duplex to call the number and make reservations at the restaurant or dentist and so on.

The ethical implications of Google Duplex: will it be easier to cheat people?

The idea of the Mountain View company, however, did not please everyone and did not take long to attract criticism on the possible ways of use. Although now Google Duplex will be used to book a table at the restaurant or an appointment at the hairdresser, it is not difficult to imagine that, in a few years, it could be used to make any kind of call. The risk, therefore, is that the voice of Duplex could be used for phone scams and deceive people who are on the other side of the receiver. Problems of an ethical nature that, according to the detractors of Big G's latest creation, should be addressed before it's too late.