Google Duplex Selfishness
Google Duplex that is Google’s phone-calling AI seeks to enhance our lives, but at what cost?
Google Duplex makes it clear our smartphones are no longer about conversations but more about transfers of information. This was evident at Google’s I/O keynote, where the company unveiled that its AI can now make phone calls on your behalf, booking salon appointments or restaurant reservations. The demo was stunning, because of how human this next-level chat bot sounded and also how the world would be with our robot imposters flooding the phone lines.
But after watching the video of Google AI making calls, I couldn’t stop thinking about the person on the other end of the line. When did human service workers become Google’s to experiment on?
With Google’s AI assistant making calls on our behalf, I worry it will become easier for us to abuse small businesses. If it’s as simple as telling Google Duplex to make an appointment, it’s just as easy to constantly reschedule or not show up altogether because there’s no connection between you and the human worker who picked up the phone to arrange your reservation.
You don’t feel bad for the number of requests and changes when someone (or something) else is doing it for you. You don’t even have to say “Please.” Adding a layer of communication between businesses and their customers can also financially impact the former.
In many ways, technology has widened the gap between the rich and the poor and has coarsened the behavior one exudes toward the other. Never was this more clear than when former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught on video berating a driver on his platform for asking about why Uber Black prices had dropped.
When you think of the on-demand economy as just that — something you get on-demand, regardless of who fulfills it as long as you’re paying — it’s easier to forget about underpaid employees working around the clock to make your wishes happen.
Google is billing Duplex as a way to promote Time Well Spent and lessen language barrier issues so that we can all be free to engage with the world outside our digital screens. That’s one optimistic end of the spectrum. In reality, it’s more likely that this technology, like others before it, will just encourage us to further distance and focus only on ourselves in the world within a bubble.
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