back to article Hi, Google Duplex here, trying to book a haircut for a socially inept human. Sorry, 'COVID-19'?... DOES NOT COMPUTE

Almost one year after its flashy launch at Google I/O, the Chocolate Factory's AI call assistant, Google Duplex, is coming to the UK. Google Duplex is effectively an AI personal assistant that can call real-life people and perform simple tasks, like booking reservations for restaurants and hair stylists, or confirming opening …

  1. stuartnz

    "Late last year, Google introduced the service in a limited form in ****New Zealand****, where it was used to check the opening hours of businesses during the holiday period. How Google trained Duplex to understand the quintessential ****Aussie****-ism of "yeah, nah"

    A friendly reminder - this is a dangerous conflation, on either side of The Tasman. :)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      The writer assumed that when attempts were made to get it to understand kiwi the AI simply folded in on itself before singing "daisy daisy...."

      1. stuartnz


        The fact the writer "ain't from around here" can be seen in their treating the said phrase as it if were two well known separate English words, separated by a comma. It is OF COURSE, one word, yeahnah - as every Kiwi knows :)

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Someone probably asked it about an appropriate treatment to stop dry rot on their deck

    2. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      If you can understand "yeah, nah" then qubits should be easy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Danyet, tovarishch.

        I assume it means exactly the same: in answer to a negative question, yes you are correct, the answer is no. Like the French si.

        Am I correct?

  2. IGotOut Silver badge

    Hi Google...

    Can.we have the name of your directors. We'd like to send the enforcement notices to them. Jail time IS an option.

    The rules on automated calls are in regulation 19, and are stricter. You must not make an automated marketing call – that is, a call made by an automated dialling system that plays a recorded message – unless the person has specifically consented to receive this type of call from you. General consent for marketing, or even consent for live calls, is not enough – it must specifically cover automated calls.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      Re: Hi Google...

      I think you are confused. Google duplex calls are meant to *order* services, not sell them, and they are real-time rather than recorded. Finally, they are made to the phone numbers published by companies *specifically* for taking orders.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hi Google...

        Hello, Haircuttery! I'd like to offer you an opportunity to cut my hair! This offer is being extended to select barbers and hairstylists in your area for the next 48 hours, but once my hair is cut, it will be swept away and this offer will go with it! So won't you act now and put me on your schedule?

        Hello? Are you there? Hello?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's like the unwanted Internet connected fridge

    being constantly shoved down our throats.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: It's like the unwanted Internet connected fridge

      And that's definitely too much to swallow!

  4. quattroprorocked

    I asked it for a haircut

    While I was waiting in the queue at the bank.

    My investments instantly lost 20%

  5. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    And let the mischief begin

    I can see it now:

    Me:" Hey, Google!"

    G: "Yes, sir?"

    Me: "Call that girl who handles my taxes, I want to talk to her about payment"

    G: "Ok, I got you a call girl who will give you a hand job, you need to pay."

    Me: "What the fsck??!!"

    G: "That's another hundred bucks."

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: And let the mischief begin

      At least you're not a Scot trapped in an elevator. =-)P

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Table reservation or book a haircut.

    That's quite clever but what I really want is self buttering toast.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Amazon Mechanical Turk

    I would put the number of human listeners higher than 25%, look at what users of turk can get away with paying for peoples time.

  8. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    An alternative use case

    If it could be trained to negotiate the fastest path through the automated "If you want ... press 6" systems used by banks etc, do the wait-on-hold, and only bother me when a real person is finally on the line, it might be useful.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: An alternative use case

      I'm sorry, I don't understand your post. Can you repeat it using a few words to state the reason for your post.

      I'm sorry, ...

  9. Tim 11

    Relying on human operators

    Aha! I bet if you took apart one of their so-called self-driving cars you'd find an illegal Bangladeshi child-labour immigrant stuck in the engine compartment with a periscope

  10. Emir Al Weeq

    24hr clock

    Let's hope Google also recognises that 24 hour clock is much more common outside the US (esp. rail travel) and that 22.10 is not the same as twenty to ten.

    Then again, given the UK rail system, a train due at twenty to ten will probably arrive at 22.10 so it may all work out OK.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: 24hr clock

      Good point, well made.

      However, booking a haircut for 22:10 is unlikely, I'm not aware of any 24 hour hairdressers...


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 24hr clock

        Maybe you just need to expand your dating pool.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 24hr clock

        Wife has done mine for last 52 years, and usually does my hair last thing at night.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: 24hr clock

      Also need to account for date formats.

  11. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

  12. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I’d like to hear the google assistant battling with BT’s god-awful AI call handler.

    “Please describe yourself problem”

    “I’d like to report a fault with my home broadband”

    “You have a problem with your broadband?’

    “I’d like to report a fault with my broadband”

    “You have a problem with your broadband?”

    And so on...

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      I'm putting you through to the wrong department now; please wait.

  13. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    It does strike me as a very clever solution in search of a problem.

    If I want to book a haircut at three o'clock on Friday, that's fine. But if that's not available and they can offer me four o'clock Saturday instead, how does the robot know whether I'm interested and/or available? Either it has to ask me - in which case, what's the bloody point in not doing it myself - or it has to know my diary inside out, including all the bits I didn't fill in because it's obvious I'm doing something else.

    And what is this fascination with this sort of application anyway? Is there a whole cadre of researchers/programmers out there who are absolutely opposed to people talking to each other?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It does strike me as a very clever solution in search of a problem.

      No fascination here. Google is feverishly trying new ways to slurp extra personal data from you.

  14. SVV Silver badge

    AI personal assistant that can call real-life people

    For an AI phone caller to be considered a real artificial intelligence, it will have to pass the Tu-Ring test :

    "OK Google, call me a taxi"

    "You're a taxi"

    1. Arfbarkwoof

      Re: AI personal assistant that can call real-life people

      This reminds me of the time I was dabbling with Cortana out of morbid curiosity, asked "What's the time?" and got directed to the Wiikipedia page describing the concept of time. Not *technically* the wrong answer, but...

      Needless to say that was the last of my dabblings.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: AI personal assistant that can call real-life people

        A philosophical robot answering machine, DA would be proud

  15. Aussie Doc Bronze badge




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