AS IF talking to call centre drones wasn't irritating enough, Google has announced plans to robotise them.
Google already has a customer, a large insurance company, looking at how it can use Duplex to improve call handling by giving the common but simple queries to Duplex, leaving the humans free to file their nails, giggle and hang up on you.
It's not alone, either. Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Cisco are all in the market of automated agents and if they can crack a populist version of the Turing Test, then we could find a lot of our interactions that seem human are in fact the work of digital ghosts.
And where there are ghosts, there's a lot of revenue for the people behind the tech.
We've already seen that Google Duplex does a fairly convincing job of being like a PA, and as such, there's no reason why for the simple stuff at least, it can be the agent too. If it gets stuck, it can always refer the call to its human supervisor.
With thousands of call centers moved out to the likes of India, but a pressure from many users to bring them back, the prize of a fully working Duplex layer before they speak to a human being, could placate the traditionalists and at the same time reduce the queues, another bugbear of the "you can't have it all ways" camp.
Duplex is in equal parts marvelled and feared by customers who fear the rise of the machines but love the demo of the non-existent person having an oblivious conversation with Google Assistant. Once the system is fully operational, Google has pledged to ensure that Duplex identifies as a robot at the start of the call.
We can't wait to listen in to one Duplex calling another... μ
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