[Updated]Call Centers May Adopt Polarizing Google Duplex Service: Report

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Update 07/05: Google has confirmed it's not currently testing Duplex with any enterprise customers. A Google spokesperson said, "We're currently focused on consumer use cases for the Duplex technology and we aren't testing Duplex with any enterprise clients. As we shared last week, Duplex is designed to operate in very specific use cases, and currently we're focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking, and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers. It's important that we get the experience right and we're taking a slow and measured approach as we incorporate learnings and feedback from our tests." End of update.

Call centers may be adopting Google's polarizing Duplex, an artificial intelligence service designed to hold natural phone calls with humans for the purposes of achieving a wide variety of goals on their owner's behalf, The Information reports, citing an unnamed source. Several major companies recently started testing Duplex in call centers and are also exploring other applications of the solution, the insider claims. One potential adopter of the technology is a well-known insurance company that has been particularly eager to toy with the idea of implementing Duplex into its call center operations, as per the same report.

Numerous ethical questions raised by some industry watchers over the idea of having an AI mimic a lifelike conversation are understood to be keeping most of Google's potential partners careful with testing Duplex and no third-party, enterprise-level implementations of the service are expected in the coming months. While no specific timeframe has been provided, the claim that all firms that are presently testing Duplex are still in extremely early stages of doing so suggests B2B applications of the solution may not debut prior to 2019. The Mountain View, California-based tech giant announced Duplex with a stage demo at its annual Google I/O developer conference in May but only presented it as a service designed to act as an extension of Google Assistant and not an offering meant to be pitched to enterprises.

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One insider claims Google is specifically looking to pitch Duplex as a way for enterprises to automate some entry-level call center tasks, though it's presently unclear when that ambition became part of the project. Such a solution could provide the company with more firepower in its diversification push toward B2B services, a segment which presently only accounts for some three-percent of its annual turnover. Duplex will start being tested with limited businesses later this summer but the timing of its planned nationwide rollout is yet to be disclosed and possibly hasn't yet been determined as it's likely to depend on the results of the initial real-world application experiment.