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article imageAxios: Google may have faked the Duplex hairdresser call

By Lisa Cumming     May 20, 2018 in Technology
News media company Axios asked some tough questions to Google about their recent demo calls where Google Duplex called a hair salon and a restaurant; claiming that Google may have altered something.
In this report, Axios' fact-checking of the Google Duplex demo raises a few questions that have yet to be answered — and it all started with a simple question about why the businesses who picked up didn't identify their workplaces.
"Google told both developers and investors that it has created something remarkable, thus increasing its profile and value. When questioned further, however, it will not provide basic evidence to back up its boasts." — from the Axios report
Axios found the fact that neither the restaurant nor the hairdresser identified their businesses strange, so they asked Google about it. And, unsurprisingly, Google didn't give up anything. Axios pressed further to ask if Google had edited the tapes in any form, if Axios could know what businesses were called; Google declined.
"Google may well have created a lifelike voice assistant that we'll all eventually use to complete mundane tasks like appointment scheduling. It also might be close to creating such a thing, but not quite there yet. Or it was partially staged. Or something else entirely. We just don't know, because Google won't answer the questions." — from Axios
Google didn't answer Axios' questions, but it did tell staff in a weekly meeting that, upon release, Duplex would officially be identifying itself to the person on the other end of the line. This comes after The Verge reported that Google had told them a feature of that design is underway.
“We understand and value the discussion around Google Duplex — as we’ve said from the beginning, transparency in the technology is important. We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we’ll make sure the system is appropriately identified. What we showed at I/O was an early technology demo, and we look forward to incorporating feedback as we develop this into a product.” — from The Verge
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