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article imageFollowing backlash, Google Duplex will ID itself to responder

By Lisa Cumming     May 11, 2018 in Technology
After a demo at this year's I/O conference, in which Google's AI voice calling system conversed with someone on the other end of the line, the tech giant has announced that the AI has been re-worked so it will identify itself as such.
Google Duplex — the recently-announced AI voice calling system feature of Google Assistant — successfully duped a human during a telephone call, raising alarm bells to those familiar with AI and the ethical implications of an advancement like this.
Further than that, the lone demonstration was alarming to some.
In an effort to minimize the criticism about ethics, The Verge reported that Google has since announced the AI will announce itself as such.
Google representatives told The Verge that the company felt a responsibility to inform individuals who do encounter Duplex that they may be talking to a piece of a software, and that the Assistant team was looking to safeguard the product against misuses like spam calling.
In the initial call, Duplex used "ahh" and "umm" in its speech, this made the technology sound more human. The function of Google Duplex is to assist you in doing things like booking appointments and finding a table at a restaurant.
Bloomberg reported that Scott Huffman, an executive on Google’s Assistant team, said the response to Duplex was a mixed-bag and while Huffman does understand concerns he doesn't agree with giving Duplex a robotic voice to make it clear that a machine is calling. So, one concession is that the AI will be announcing itself in the future, but the voice and speech pattern will not be altered to sound more robotic.
Looking forward, experts are saying that Google has to be wary of how they roll out technology like this because of the ethical concerns. "That debate touches on a far bigger dilemma for Google," wrote Bloomberg technology writer Mark Bergen. "As the company races to build uncanny, human-like intelligence, it is wary of any missteps that cause people to lose trust in using its services."
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