GOOGLE'S DUPLEX demonstration has led to a whole bunch of unexpected… ahem… feedback that no one was really expecting, least of all Google.
Having belatedly pledged that any calls made by Google Assistant would be announced as automated to the receiving party, the company has now had to promise that Duplex calls will also include notification that the calls are being recorded.
Voice assistants are constantly recording anyway, a tiny quarter(ish) second loop listens for the device wake word (eg ‘Hey Google') before overwriting when it doesn't hear it.
Duplex calls will need to be recorded so they can be sent to the cloud for parsing. The other solution would be an on-device AI chip that would be much slower although Amazon is said to be looking at one as an accelerator for Echo devices.
Although the official line is the warning is for "certain jurisdictions" it seems unlikely that it would be rolled out as anything other than universal. It's not worth the hassle of complying state by state when it is always a courtesy to inform someone you are recording them anyway.
Google has been clear to point out that it has looked into the requirements and ethics involved prior to the demo at this month's Google I/O.
Bloomberg reports that California, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts are amongst the US states requiring consent, thus forming a large chunk of the US population.
Here in Blighty, the rules are straightforward. Recording calls for personal use is fine. Recording without consent is only a problem if the call will be made available to a third party.
Did we say straightforward? Think about this. If a Duplex call is made by a Google product on your behalf, who if anyone is the third party?
It looks like this could be another case where the law needs to catch up with technology. µ
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