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Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet

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    Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet

    Cnet

    The conversation seems mundane. At least, at first.

    In a building called the Partnerplex on Google's sprawling campus in Mountain View, California, I've been invited to hear a 51-second phone recording of someone making a dinner reservation.

    ...

    As I listen to what sounds like a man and a woman talking, Google's top executives for Assistant, the search giant's digital helper, watch closely to gauge my reaction. They're showing off the Assistant's new tricks a few days before Google I/O, the company's annual developer conference that starts Tuesday.

    Turns out this particular trick is pretty wild.

    That's because Person 2, the one who sounds like a man, isn't a person at all. It's the Google Assistant.
    Oh boy...
    Rusakov's Signature
    "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil
  • #2

    I was watching this earlier today and was pretty impressed with what I saw. It's a really cool idea to be able to just tell assistant to make a reservation for you and it will ring up the restaurant or florist or barber and do it. There's also a lot of clever tricks going on here. Those uhs and ums in the conversation are actually hiding the bot thinking. Right now it seems a little stilted, sometimes it puts an uhh where it really sticks out. There are other tricks it could use to hide its processing though. Elongating a syllable or taking a breath, or making it sound like it's having a drink of water. Inevitably we're going to end up with robots talking to other robots for us. I for one welcome our new robot overlords.
    Daryn's Signature



    “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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    • #3

      Originally posted by Daryn View Post
      I was watching this earlier today and was pretty impressed with what I saw. It's a really cool idea to be able to just tell assistant to make a reservation for you and it will ring up the restaurant or florist or barber and do it. There's also a lot of clever tricks going on here. Those uhs and ums in the conversation are actually hiding the bot thinking. Right now it seems a little stilted, sometimes it puts an uhh where it really sticks out. There are other tricks it could use to hide its processing though. Elongating a syllable or taking a breath, or making it sound like it's having a drink of water. Inevitably we're going to end up with robots talking to other robots for us. I for one welcome our new robot overlords.
      Well, Wired UK has a few things to say about Duplex. So maybe not overlords just yet.
      Rusakov's Signature
      "You drongos will have to do better than that if you want to beat the devil!"-Hugh Dawkins, alias: Tasmanian Devil

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      • #4

        Okay, but where does this leave the real personal assistants? In the unemployment line?

        I'm frankly becoming a little frightened by all of these new innovations. Not because I fear there one day being robot or AI overlords, but because of the number of people they stand to be put out of work. Right now, the industry I'm in, is pushing hard to make self-driving trucks a reality. What's going to happen to the trucker when that happens? Am I going to be out of a job? Probably not within my lifetime, but it is nonetheless a worrying trend.

        The other day I was in a warehouse. They had four robots palatalizing product. They were doing it fast and efficiently. But I saw what these four robots really represented: the owner of the company probably spent a few million on them, and in so doing, rid himself of the need for having to pay a dozen or so employees. That was those dozens or so employees who were people out of work.

        If you present people with things to help them get things done without the need for hiring people, it only stands to reason that they are going to seize upon it, especially if it saves them money. As computers and robotics become more advanced, it could start turning into a worrying trend very fast. Business owners will get richer. The unemployment lines will grow and grow.

        We are entering an era of truly marvelous innovation. But I think wisdom in how it is applied should become a priority which advances along with it.
        Rick Canaan's Signature
        A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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        • #5

          I know I kid about robot overlords often, but I don't think we have to worry too much. I don't think that this will replace Personal Assistants, but it might one day become your personal assistant. The idea being to let the Google bot do common things like cancel a subscription, book a table, or stuff like that. For stuff that's more complicated it could also bring you into the call to finish things up. I truly doubt that this will become the norm though, because we don't fully trust automated systems to do the job as well as we do. There's also the matter that folks will start to spot those bots and troll them. If you listen to enough of those calls, you can tell they're not human. They may get better, but I don't think Google wants to build a bot to fool people. I think it just wants to build a system that will make Android more useful for you.

          So while it's a cool demo and maybe a bit creepy, I don't think it's going to take away too many jobs. As for the self-driving trucks you mentioned, I think everyone is starting to understand that we're not as far along as they thought or wanted. There have been a few incidents lately that have given the companies working on this stuff a bit more introspection.
          Daryn's Signature



          “Just when you think humanity has found the limits of stupid, they go and ratchet up the standard by another notch.” - Bob

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          • #6

            Originally posted by Daryn View Post
            As for the self-driving trucks you mentioned, I think everyone is starting to understand that we're not as far along as they thought or wanted.
            I've said this several times, myself. I come upon a situation, or someone in a car does something really dumb in front of a truck, and I ask, "Will the coders have been able to think of that?"

            Nevertheless, the industry is pushing really hard for the technology. Drivers are trucking companies' single biggest expense. If they could eliminate the need to pay drivers, they're definitely going to go for it. Moreover, if they did, it would drive consumer prices down. Without the need for paying drivers in the equation, commodities such as food, clothing, etc, would all drop in price by commensurate amounts. The only trouble is, you'd suddenly have a displaced workforce that was making over $30,000 per year each. If they took jobs making half that, then that would be half as much they'd have to spend in the economy.

            If you say that might be a good thing - because yeah, right, if people are having to pay less, then it's alright if they make less, right?

            Wrong.

            It would develop into a purely service economy. The have-nots working menial jobs to serve the rich. It would develop into a situation that would be tantamount to serfdom. The more and more we automate, the more skilled jobs we eliminate. Maybe it's a science-fiction writer's wet dream, a science-empowered utopia for the rich. But what about the rest of us? Those of us who don't have what it takes to make it through college? Those who don't necessarily have the smarts to work on smart machines? We wind up living in tiny apartments, maybe on the sides of the streets in the poorer parts of town in shanties, and flipping burgers, mopping floors, or mowing lawns for those who do have the smarts.

            I am a journeyman in my trade. I have nearly 20 years experience driving truck. I have a perfect safety record and an excellent work record. There isn't much else I can do, though. I've devoted my life to becoming the best driver of trucks I can. I have learning disabilities that keep me from making it in college, so I won't be able to get any other kind of job that pays me as good. So what if I wake up one morning and am told not to bother coming into work? 'We're sorry. We don't need drivers anymore. We're going with self-driving trucks now.' Do I go and apply for a job at McDonalds?

            Automation and these ever increasing leaps in computer intelligence is a scary subject for a lot of people. Think of those dozen or so people I mentioned in my previous post. Imagine how they felt, when they came in one day and saw their company unpacking and setting up those four robots. It is a reality a lot of people are facing. The more automation gains footholds in business and industry, it will be a reality more and more people will face as time goes on.

            It's frightening. And there's no other way to put it, except to say that it is frightening.
            Rick Canaan's Signature
            A balanced diet is an ice cream cone in each hand - Rick Canaan

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            • #7



              I really had no idea how to comment on that fact. When I saw that video in which that AI just ordered visit at hairdresser, it immediately made me think of Battlestar Galactica's last episode. Myself, I am unsure how to react it. On one hand we are developing something really complex. On the other hand - like depicted many times in fiction - it could be start of our doom.

              Even if it doesn't mean our direct extinction, but creation of society truly dependent on machines - as if it wasn't now, though. The very same objections were made back when Industrial Revolution happened and most sad thing is that part of worries became reality.

              It is really hard to asses the forthcoming influence over the society. If the current generations were influenced by a stupid non-sentient small machines and altered our lives to the point of no return in most cases - I fear to even imagine what the sentient machine could bring.

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