GOOGLE HAS STARTED to roll out its controversial Duplex AI technology to its flagship Pixel phone range.
The virtual concierge tech was first demonstrated at Google I/O this year where it was able to make haircut reservations over the phone on behalf of the user, without the person at the other end realising they were talking to a robot. It was a bit freaky.
After some criticism of the feature, Google agreed to make sure that Duplex identifies itself as a bot on calls, before the AI bot disappeared for final refinements.
Now it's back after a private beta, and is able to make restaurant reservations in "select cities" from Pixel, Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 phones as well as their beefy XL versions.
If you're not set up (the service is still limited to 10 pilot cities) then Duplex will offer up the phone number for you to do it yourself.
This is still early doors for Duplex and by limiting the location and functionality of Duplex, Google still has time to make any tweaks before releasing it more widely.
But make no mistake - this is Duplex arriving officially - there are no closed user groups anymore, and no approved businesses who have been primed to receive such calls. The AI is loose. Although some restaurants will still come up with just a phone number or error message, many others already work.
Restaurant owners can, for example, opt-out using the ‘My Business' app for Android and iOS. Large bookings can be an issue too, with anything about 10 producing a blunt no from the system.
According to VentureBeat, which has an activated handset, after saying "Hey Google, reserve a table" or "make a restaurant reservation", with the option to add what area (otherwise it will assume nearby), the screen will offer a number of food types and options, before hitting "Request a table there" pops up. Once you press that, Google does its thing.
There are loads of other options, like the date and time of the reservation, which can be booked several months ahead. But as ever, this is a US rollout for now, so us Blighty types are going to have to do it the old way. For now. μ
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