Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch:
Yet Pichai said Google had been working on the Duplex technology for “many years”, and went so far as to claim the AI can “understand the nuances of conversation” — albeit still evidently in very narrow scenarios, such as booking an appointment or reserving a table or asking a business for its opening hours on a specific date.
“It brings together all our investments over the years in natural language understanding, deep learning, text to speech,” he said.
What was yawningly absent from that list, and seemingly also lacking from the design of the tricksy Duplex experiment, was any sense that Google has a deep and nuanced appreciation of the ethical concerns at play around AI technologies that are powerful and capable enough of passing off as human — thereby playing lots of real people in the process.
Google Assistant making calls pretending to be human not only without disclosing that it’s a bot, but adding “ummm” and “aaah” to deceive the human on the other end with the room cheering it… horrifying. Silicon Valley is ethically lost, rudderless and has not learned a thing.
Instead of worrying about humanoid robots becoming self-aware and destroying us all, I think it’s more satisfying and intellectually stimulating — and, of course, more practical — to ask questions about the ethics of the pseudo-automated systems we’re so quick to applaud.
See Also: “Who Will Command the Robot Armies?” by Maciej Cegłowski.