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Android Duplex – Google Fails To Understand Humans Again

You remember “Glassholes”? Googles very cool technology failed to take into account humans didn’t trust other humans wearing a computer on their face and made them punching bags? Looks like Android Duplex is next up on the “failing to understand society” scoreboard!

Android duplex Google long history of not understanding society

Yea… those people. With the very punchable faces because you never knew if they might be recording you or looking at porn.

Google Has Never Understood Societal Norms

Google is a great technology company, they have made incredible strides in search algorithms and artificial intelligence. But where Apple carefully weighs its product impact on users and the people around them, Google has no such concern it seems. They keep repeating mistakes when it comes to privacy and security that tech nerds seem inclined to do. Microsoft has the same issue, I mean, just how many years did it take them to get rid of user-visible DOS? It seems every year Google stumbles with a new feature crossing the line of privacy. I remember a feature in Google Photos where it automatically tagged people and notified them, the kind of feature that seems cool and convenient, but is also a breach of privacy.

This year’s Google I/O was actually pretty light on releases, but one demo left a lot of people stunned; an incredible example of Google’s AI Assistant passing the Turing Test. Google hopes to empower it’s Assistant to make actual phone calls for you. For example, you could simply tell it to “make reservations at Teatros for Wednesday around 5PM”. In the background, the assistant would first try to use an app like OpenTable or similar, but if it wasn’t able, it has the power and permissions to make an actual phone call on your behalf. What happened in the actual demonstration was simply amazing! The assistant had a perfect human voice; littered with fillers like “hmmm”, “uh-hu”, lifting inflections, the works… check this out.

Android Duplex: Amazing Technology, Incredibly Terrifying

Even me, a die-hard anti-Google fellow, doff my cap to such an amazing technology demo. BUT- – this is Google, they have a habit of overpromising and under delivering, and so far, this isn’t even a usable Beta.

BUT, and think hard about this, are you really comfortable picking up a phone and not knowing if it’s a human you are talking to? I would suggest sitting and having a good hard think about the implications of this technology. How could nefarious individuals use such technology? Google is getting ahead of itself I think, not realizing the social implications of this technology, which will most certainly run into regulations of some sort.

At least it damn well better! I for one am not going to be pleased if these types of products, from Apple, Google, Cousin Bob, don’t fully disclose you are talking to an AI. After the Android Duplex demo, people of my feather on the web understandably freaked out, causing Google to release a statement that vaguely described they are looking for ways to make sure the AI announces itself.

Ok, great. DO THAT.

But then… why the very human sentence fillers like umms and ahs? Even Data couldn’t use contractions! Inflections are fine as we do use them to communicate intent and such, but why make an AI not talk clean and perfect? It’s clear the intention here is to make it sound As. Human. As. Possible.

And that is a big problem. Googles Assistant is posing as a human.

One of the Talking Heads(I called her that because there is ZERO credit or names in her video) at Cnet brought up that this raises a lot of ethical questions, do we have the right to know if we are talking to Android Duplex? In the day in age of not being able to tell the difference between real and fake news, we can’t even trust our own ears now?

It’s a scary time we live in folks, and society needs to catch up with technology and technology needs to slow down perhaps. I see this going one of two ways… Google dumbs down their assistant so it’s clearly a robot, or it’s gets regulated into oblivian.

Is it really that hard to pick up the phone and book your own damn reservation??

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Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
Ryszard Gold
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