Google’s voice-calling “Duplex” – which lets Artificial Intelligence (AI) mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls – may soon enter call centers assisting humans with customer queries.
According to a report in The Information late on Thursday, an unnamed insurance company has shown interest in “Duplex”. Duplex would handle simple calls for the insurance company, and if the customer started asking complex questions the bot cannot handle a human would step in, according to the report.
However, it is unlikely that AI research will cease after mastering simple conversations, meaning call centers could one day be largely automated using this technology. The move would put Google into a head-to-head battle with Amazon, which is trying to persuade firms to use its Alexa technology.
At its annual developer conference in May, Google CEO Sundar Pichai introduced “Duplex” and demonstrated how the AI system could book an appointment at a salon and a table at a restaurant.
What Google said?
Google, however, said in a statement that the company is not testing “Duplex” with any enterprise clients.
“We’re currently focused on consumer use cases for the ‘Duplex’ technology and we aren’t testing ‘Duplex’ with any enterprise clients,” a Google spokesperson told in a statement.
“‘Duplex’ is designed to operate in very specific use cases, and currently we’re focused on testing with restaurant reservations, hair salon booking and holiday hours with a limited set of trusted testers,” the company added.
The market for cloud-based customer call center market is expected to hit more than $20.9 billion by 2022, up from around $6.8 billion last year, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. Google says it has been working to address these concerns – and plans to release a new version of the system to some testers ‘within weeks.
Microsoft has showcased a similar technology it has been testing in China.
At an AI event in London in May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company’s “Xiaoice” social chat bot has 500 million “friends” and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services.