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Google Duplex

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Google Duplex is an artificial intelligence (AI) chat agent that can carry out specific verbal tasks, such as making a reservation or appointment, over the phone. Duplex, which uses natural language understanding (NLU) and natural language generation (NLG) to carry on a two-way conversation, incorporates interjections and pauses in such a lifelike manner that someone listening in could easily mistake a human-to-computer transaction for a human-to-human conversation.

Duplex is built on a recurrent neural network (RNN) using TensorFlow Extended, a general purpose machine learning platform used at Google. The Duplex system is designed to carry out tasks autonomously but has the ability to signal a human operator should the program not be able to complete the task at hand. 

Duplex was unveiled at Google I/O 2018 along with the rebranding of Google Research to Google AI.  Duplex's voice interface is so realistic that it has been criticized for creating an uncanny valley user experience. In response, Google announced it intends to include a built-in disclosure feature that will alert humans when they are speaking to an artificial intelligence agent and is now describing Duplex as an "automated booking service." 

See also: Google Assistant 

This was last updated in June 2018

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Margaret:  You have been really busy with your What Is posts.  This Duplex post has caused a brand new thread of research for me.  

My concern about the emergence of AI is that it will be deployed the same as so much of the new stuff (IoT and IoE) without basic safety features in place.  We already are struggling to provide security for small real estate devices like IoT and the like.  Privacy and confidentiality is at risk here.  

Since AI is such a powerful and pervasive suite of applications what causes me anxiety is that the excitement of new breakthroughs will influence the designers/developers to continue to do a "work-around" to prevent security from slowing down the process and the back-doors will be forgotten when the product hits the street.  Just like the misery we are currently experiencing with all of the "undocumented features" we continue to ferret out of the software that we rely on to have products that are safe and secure.  

We are exacerbating the fundamental problem of shrink wrapped black holes that we continue to uncover at great cost and significant threats to security.  

Some regulatory body should be paying attention to these developments to ensure that security is built into all of the products from the get go.  

We really ought to take advantage of lessons learned.  JohnG
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