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Google Is Reportedly Looking to Take Over Call Centers With Its Duplex AI Assistant

In the demo, the Google Assistant sounded like a human

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Google's new Search feature gives single result to certain queries. Pixabay

Google’s voice-calling “Duplex” — which lets Artificial Intelligence (AI) mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls — may soon enter call centres assisting humans with customer queries.

According to a report in The Information late on Thursday, an unnamed insurance company has shown interest in “Duplex” which could “handle simple and repetitive customer calls” before taking help from a human if the conversation gets complicated.

Google, however, said in a statement that the company is not testing “Duplex” with any enterprise clients.

“We’re currently focused on consumer use cases for the ‘Duplex’ technology and we aren’t testing ‘Duplex’ with any enterprise clients,” a Google spokesperson told Engadget in a statement.

“‘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,” the company added.

At its annual developer conference in May, Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced “Duplex” and demonstrated how the AI system could book an appointment at a salon and a table at a restaurant.

Representational image.
Google on a smartphone device, Pixabay

In the demo, the Google Assistant sounded like a human.

It used Google DeepMind’s new “WaveNet” audio-generation technique and other advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) to replicate human speech patterns.

However, tech critics raised questions on the morality of the technology, saying it was developed without proper oversight or regulation.

Microsoft has showcased a similar technology it has been testing in China.

Also Read: Google: Just Vetting Third Party Apps, Not Reading Your Gmail

At an AI event in London in May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company’s “Xiaoice” social chat bot has 500 million “friends” and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services.

“Xiaoice” interacts in text conversations but now the company has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones. (IANS)

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Google Planning to Develop a New Publishing Platform For Local News Publishers

According to Google, in Asia-Pacific, journalists and publishers are increasingly grappling with questions over how quality journalism can thrive in the digital age

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Google creating publishing platform for local news publishers. Pixabay

To help small newsrooms overcome challenges in their strive to go digital, Google is creating a new publishing platform for local news publishers.

Google News Initiative has partnered with web development company, Automattic and WordPress.com — home to 30 per cent of the world’s websites — and has invested $1.2 million in its effort to create “Newspack”.

“Newspack” is a fast, secure, low-cost publishing system tailor-made to the needs of small newsrooms, Google said in a statement on Monday.

The new publishing tool will be made available to publishers globally later in the year.

“Newspapers with long histories have had to cut back on staff and reduce coverage and reporters who try to start new digital publications face an interminable struggle with technical and business problems,” said Jim Albrecht, Product Management Director, Google Search.

“Journalists should be writing stories and covering their communities, not worrying about designing websites, configuring CMSs, or building commerce systems.”

Google, smart compose
The Google name is displayed outside the company’s office in London, Britain. VOA

While “Newspack” publishers will have access to all the plugins created by the WordPress developer community, the core product is not trying to be all things to all publishers.

“It is trying to help small publishers succeed by building best practices into the product while removing distractions that may divert scarce resources. We like to call it aan opinionated CMS — it knows the right thing to do, even when you don’t,” explained Albrecht.

Google said it will also advise on the “Newspack” feature set, based on feedback from its extensive contact with local publishers, and provide technical support on the integration of Google products.

Also Read- Study Reveals Melting Away of Antarctica at an Alarming Rate

Google News in November launched a new innovation challenge to help scribes and publishers in the Asia-Pacific region produce quality journalism in the digital age.

According to Google, in Asia-Pacific, journalists and publishers are increasingly grappling with questions over how quality journalism can thrive in the digital age. (IANS)