Google CEO Sundar Pichai presents the company’s new AI voice assistant Duplex during the Google I/O conference on May 8. AFP
For many of us, it’s easy to tell if it’s a computer that’s calling you on your phone. Its voice makes it obvious before it has the chance to finish telling you that you can get a free loan or that you are invited for a customer survey. It’s also easy to hang up – it’s just a computer, after all.
我们不少人很容易就能辨别出是否是一台电脑在给你打电话。在电话那头告诉你获得免息贷款或者邀请参加客户调查之前，电脑的声音就已经相当明显了。这也让人们很容易就挂断电话 —— 毕竟那只是一台电脑而已。
But Google Duplex, an artificial intelligence (AI) voice assistant, has shown that computers are able to “conduct a natural conversation with a human over the phone and complete simple real-world tasks,” reported tech site Wired.
On May 8 during its annual developer conference Google I/O, the company showed Duplex making phone calls and having full conversations. First, it called a hair salon to make an appointment, before calling a restaurant to make a reservation.
在今年5月8日举行的谷歌年度开发者大会(Google I/O 2018)上，谷歌公司用Duplex打电话并进行了完整的对话。它先给美发店打了个预约电话，然后再给一家餐厅打电话订位。
As CNET noted, not only has Google changed the typical computerized voice, but the company has taken “extra steps to disguise the system to sound more like a human”.
Duplex comes with imperfections – “umms” and “uhhs” – and uses typical human phrasing such as “Oh, gotcha.”
As a result, “the receptionists on the other end of the call have no idea they are conversing back and forth with AI,” commented CNET.
Some see Duplex as quite a breakthrough – it will be able to help humans cut down on boring tasks. But for the rest, it “straddles a fine line between being convenient and deceptive,” as Wired wrote. People have a hard enough time knowing whether news is real or fake, or what photos are to be trusted. And now, we may not be able to trust our own ears.
一些人将Duplex视为一大突破 —— 它能帮助人们完成枯燥的工作。但正如Wired所写的那样，还有一些人认为，它“跨越了便利和欺骗的界线”。人们现在已经很难分辨新闻和照片的真伪了。而如今，我们或许也无法相信自己的耳朵。
Google also mentioned that soon, Duplex will be able to imitate the owner’s voice. While this is a great step forward in AI, it also raises many concerns. For example, students could use Duplex to call their school to pretend they’re sick by using their mother’s or father’s voice.
Since people are shocked by the fact that a machine can imitate a human so well, Google has promised that in the future the voice will tell the listener that it’s not a real person.
According to Alexander Rudnicky, a researcher of human-computer speech interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, technology like this is something people are only going to become more aware of. “We just assimilate this interaction into our culture,” he told Wired.