We’ve all experienced terrible automated calls – ranging from unintelligible calls to the more advanced ones that say their “headset needs adjusting” before they start the conversation. Now Google has created an artificial intelligence called Duplex that is almost indistinguishable from a real person.

At the Google I/O 2018 conference, Google introduced the technology by having it schedule a hair appointment. From the moment the stylist answers the phone, it is obvious that she cannot tell the difference – and after hearing it, you won’t blame her. Duplex inserts natural “ums” and “mhmms” that most robots wouldn’t.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said of the technology:

The amazing thing is the assistant can actually understand the nuances of conversation. We’ve been working on this technology for many years… 

We’re still developing this technology, and we actually want to work hard to get this right, get the user experience and the expectation right for both businesses and users. 


They also showed another example of the technology making a restaurant reservation. When the restaurant worker replied that they only take reservations for four people, and repeatedly asked for the day, the technology was able to understand the nuance of the conversation, and ask for wait times in response.

Right now, Duplex is just an experiment for Google, and they have not released any information about if or when it will be available. For those of us who hate talking on the phone, the technology may be a welcome development. But for others, especially those on the receiving end, it might be just a little bit creepy. What do you think?