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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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New Zealand Firms to Pull Ads From Facebook, Google

Spark's move was part of an international response, which also saw Disney and Nestle pull ads from the site

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

A collective of some of New Zealand’s biggest companies is set to pull ads from Facebook and Google in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch mosques shootings in which the gunman live-streamed his massacre of 50 people.

Using a GoPro camera, the gunman broadcast extremely graphic footage of him shooting people at the Al Noor Mosque via Facebook Live. The livestream was available to watch on social media for hours after the attack.

Besides being livestreamed on Facebook, the video, lasting 17 minutes, was shared repeatedly on YouTube and Twitter, before being removed by the social media giant.

The New Zealand Herald said on Monday that the collective, including ASB Bank, Lotto NZ, Burger King, Spark, has come together to take a stand against the harm caused by unmoderated content on the Internet.

At this stage, it is still unclear how extensive the pull-back will be or for how long the companies are likely to pull their digital ads.

Other brands have also acted independently, The New Zealand Herald reported.

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Facebook: The platform allows for different types of content, which makes it ideal for diverse, interactive and entertaining content.

Kiwibank suspended all digital advertising on March 15 shortly after the carnage took place at the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Avenue Masjid that also left over 40 others injured.

On Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that she intended to ask Facebook how the gunman was able to livestream the massacre.

Facebook has on its part said that as many as 1.5 million videos of the attack were removed from its platform in the first 24 hours.

Also Read- Here’s How Motorola Lost its Grip in India

This is not the first time New Zealand companies have pulled ads from these platforms.

Earlier this month, telecom company Spark pulled all its advertising from YouTube over concerns about paedophilic content.

Spark’s move was part of an international response, which also saw Disney and Nestle pull ads from the site. (IANS)