Sign up to receive 5 free days of our daily summary for tech news.

Enterprise Google AI

Google’s Controversial Voice Assistant Could Talk Its Way Into Call Centers

At a developer conference in May, Google CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrated how a cutting-edge, computer-generated voice assistant called Duplex could call up a restaurant or hair salon and make an appointment without the person on the other end ever realizing they were talking with a robot. The technology was as controversial as it was impressive, drawing sharp criticism from people concerned about its ethical implications.

What Mr. Pichai didn’t mention is that the technology could be more than just a nifty trick to help users save a bit of time on reservations. Some big companies are in the very early stages of testing Google’s technology for use in other applications, such as call centers, where it might be able to replace some of the work currently done by humans, according to a person familiar with the plans.

No subscription? You're missing out.

Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information's original news and in-depth reporting.

The insurance company appears to be moving forward in a more limited fashion, the person said. Mr. Etzioni said it is important for businesses to consider these questions sooner, rather than later, in the development process.

This article has been updated with a comment from a Google spokesperson.

3 total comments
Dan Goldin, Bret Kinsella and 1 other commented on this article.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Athletic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.

Recent Articles

Autonomous Vehicles Asia AI

Silicon Valley Mapping Startup Tries to Navigate Its Way Into China

By Yunan Zhang

Autonomous Vehicles Cities Uber/Lyft

After Self-Driving Cars Get Billions, Trucks Get Second Look

By Amir Efrati

Enterprise Amazon Cloud

Amazon Web Services Targets Cisco in Networking

By Wayne Ma and Kevin McLaughlin

The pushback against the technology’s initial demonstration prompted Google to make changes.