Artificial Intelligence (AI) has always seemed like a far-fetched idea from SciFi movies, but new advances are bringing this technology closer than ever before. Advanced AI will soon be available for the public to use, and the potential benefits are endless.

As shown in this video from Google’s I/O developer conference held last week, Google Duplex takes Assistant, their voice-recognition software, to the next level by making phone calls and scheduling appointments with real people on the other end of the phone as if it were a human. Assistant even includes appropriate sub-vocals like “mmm-hmm” and “uhm” while accurately matching human voice patterns. Assistant is able to react to the person on the other end of the call and adapt the conversation based on new information.

“We have many of these examples when the calls don’t quite go as expected. But the Assistant knows the context and nuance. It knew to ask for wait times in this case, and it handled the interaction gracefully.”

– Sundar Pichai, Google CEO

In the world of home care, having a personal assistant available on a phone or computer encourages independence for seniors, those with debilitating injuries, or those who have issues communicating verbally due to strokes or Parkinson’s Disease. By reducing their reliance on family members or professionals to schedule appointments for them — or, drive them somewhere, in the case of self-driving cars — emerging technologies like Duplex can greatly benefit caregivers and the people they’re caring for.

On the flip side, advancements in artificial intelligence can conjure images of computers becoming too self-aware and taking over the world while others mourn the loss of human interaction. Some concerns are discussed in the article, “Google Duplex beat the Turing test: Are we doomed?

“What about at election time? What happens if a Duplex-like system is able to impersonate a candidate? How many citizens will think they’ve gotten an actual call, and had an actual conversation, with a candidate, when it’s merely just another SaaS service purchased with a credit card?”

– David Gewirtz, ZDNet Government

Whether you’re ready to embrace this technology or are wary of its impact, AI will continue to shape the future of voice-first applications; and, Google’s Duplex is a great example of how far things have come.

Google Assistant is currently available on the App Store, but Duplex won’t be available until later this summer — and then only in a limited rollout. Google says they want to “proceed with caution” because it’s such a new technology.

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