Google's AI Caller Will Inform People They're Being Recorded

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The Google Duplex service meant to allow Google Assistant to conduct phone calls with people on behalf of users will inform anyone it contacts that they're being recorded in certain jurisdictions, Google executives revealed during an internal Thursday meeting, Bloomberg reports. The robotic caller will also identify itself as "Google Assistant," the officials said, reiterating the point Google made shortly after its Duplex demo at I/O 2018 prompted significant backlash from the general public.

The service polarized many industry watchers, raising concerns about whether having an artificial intelligence mimic a human being over a phone is ethical. While Google said it's building Duplex with transparent disclosure in mind, the service has already been trained to produce some standard human tics such as "mhm" and "ah" while listening to the other party talking, according to the firm's initial demonstration of its capabilities. Some of those who aren't concerned about the implications of such a powerful tool are parodying it all over the Internet, with even Google's own YouTube presently being filled with videos envisioning Duplex starring in the original Terminator movie, calling its owner's parents to see how they are, and breaking up with one's significant other on their behalf. Other industry watchers are presently questioning whether Google is even capable of delivering such a tool in the immediate future, pointing to the I/O 2018 demo held earlier this month as being possibly staged or heavily edited, citing a number of unusual observations such as the fact that the receptionist called by Google Assistant hasn't identified herself or her business, nor did she ask for any contact details after making an appointment.

It's still unclear when Google Duplex may be rolled out to the company's AI companion, though the initial launch of the service is understood to only be targeting the English version of Google Assistant. The digital helper is already supported on over half a billion devices around the planet, Alphabet's subsidiary said earlier this month.

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