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Google Duplex: Troubles with Turing

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-09312 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,

Google's demo of its voice-enabled Duplex agent, earlier this month at the IO developer conference, caused enormous buzz and not a little consternation across the interwebs. Nearly all who viewed (or later viddied) the demo agreed that some kind of threshold had been surpassed: that Duplex was (or seemed) natural and adaptive and functional in ways far beyond IVRs and voice agents of yesteryear (or yestermonth).

But with the plaudits came questions. Was it ethical to field AI agents capable of pretending they were human without programming them to identify themselves as artificial? Was Duplex opening the door to new kinds of phone-spam and exploitation? Was it likely to widen the gaps that now exist between technology "haves" and "have-nots?"

With gratifying speed, Google attempted to mollify critics by promising that the productized version of Duplex would indeed flag itself as an AI. But over the past week, new questions have emerged about the authenticity of the demo itself, and the plot continues to thicken.

In this short video, Opsview's Director of Innovation, Bill Bauman, and Content Manager, John Jainschigg, discuss some of the history of voice-enabled agents, and dissect some of the pros -- and possible cons -- of Duplex and similar technologies.


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jjainschigg's picture
by John Jainschigg,
Technical Content Marketing Manager
John is an open cloud computing and infrastructure-as-code/DevOps advocate. Before joining Opsview, John was Technical Marketing Engineer at OpenStack solutions provider, Mirantis. John lives in New York City with his family, a pariah dog named Lenny, and several cats. In his free time, John enjoys making kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and other fermented foods, and riding around town on a self-balancing electric unicycle.

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