Google knows what we do online and may soon know everything else about us, too

by Sam Harnet, KQED California Report

Google just wrapped up its yearly developers conference in Mountain View, and the company’s recent investments in artificial intelligence and machine learning were on full display. The biggest news of the conference revolved around the demonstration of Duplex, the AI behind the voice of Google Assistant.

Google played two conversations at the conference. In the first conversation, the Google Assistant booked a haircut appointment for its “client.” There were audible gasps from attendees of the conference — it was nearly impossible to tell that the Google Assistant was a robot and not a human. After showcasing its newest developments in AI, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said it will be a while before this product is available to the general public. The company will need to evaluate how it signifies to the humans on the other side of the conversation that they are indeed talking to a robot. Ethical implications and concerns abound.

The business opportunity of this AI is clear, though. Improvements in the artificial intelligence behind Google Assistant would make robots even more capable of completing tasks, which could be appealing to customers and boost sales. This would be a boon for Google, which is trying to position itself to be a major player in the next iteration of the online world: the Internet of Things.

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