Google CEO Sundar Pichai took a giant leap in the wrong direction this week. At his company’s I/O developer conference, Pichai wowed the crowd by using a virtual assistant to fool people, making unsuspecting humans the target of laughter and raising serious ethical questions about future uses for AI.
Pichai played for the audience a conversation between Google Assistant and a hair salon assistant:
Hair salon: Hello, how can I help you?
Google Assistant: Hi, I’m calling to book a woman’s haircut for a client. Um, I’m looking for something on May 3rd.
Hair salon: Sure, give me one second.
Google Assistant: Mm-hmm.
The virtual assistant’s utterance of “Mm-hmm” generated peals of laughter from those eavesdropping on the equivalent of a prank call (1:56:36 of the video of the announcement). Listen to this poor sap of a hair salon receptionist! She’s completely falling for it! Let’s listen and see what happens next!
Hair salon: Sure, what time are you looking for around?
Google Assistant: At 12 p.m.
Hair salon: We do not have a 12 p.m. available. The closest we have to that is a 1:15.
Google Assistant: Do you have anything between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.?
Hair salon: Depending on what service she would like. What service is she looking for?
Google Assistant: Just a women’s haircut, for now.
Hair salon: OK, we have a 10 o’clock.
Google Assistant: 10 a.m. is fine
Hair salon: OK, what’s her first name?
Google Assistant: The first name is Lisa.
Hair salon: OK, perfect. So,I will see Lisa at 10 o’clock on May 3rd.
Google Assistant: OK, great, thanks.
Hair salon: Great. Have a great day. Bye.
The call’s conclusion generated more laughter and applause from the ranks of I/O attendees and the Google CEO. “That was a real call you just heard,” Pichai said as the chuckling continued. He explained that the call was powered by a new technology called Google Duplex. “It brings together all of our investments…
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