Google has recently introduced a digital assistant, which can talk so human that it is almost impossible to identify that it is a digital assistant. The human sounding digital assistant astonished everyone, while it raised some questions on the ethics as well. Like is it really ethical to use human-like software to interact with humans?
At the Google I/O Conference, the Google chief Sunder Pichai introduces this software and told the audience that it can make appointments for them. He then played a recording of the Google Assistant which called a salon to make a hair appointment. Afterwards, he played another recording which was about booking a restaurant for a dinner. And surprisingly, the staff didn’t even recognized that it is not a real human.
The Google Assistant makes all types of human gestures like hmm, uh, um, etc., which makes him sound like a real human. Moreover, it is designed to talk with pauses, understands the language and responds accordingly. Like it gives accurate answers to the questions asked, sounding like a human.
The Artificial Intelligence used in the Google Assistant is enriched with ‘Duplex’ technology. This technology makes the Assistant able to engage the other person on call like a real person. Furthermore, it is programmed to comprehend where to respond quickly and where to give a pause.
Google has introduced this Digital Assistant for the ease of the persons who are so busy that they cannot set their appointment. And for the small businesses which do not have enough customers so that the Digital Assistant can help them make appointments with the customers.
Criticism over Human-sounding Google Assistant:
Right after the launch of the Digital Assistant of Google, it was under a lot of debate that whether a human-like robot should be calling people. And should the people answering at the other end be told that they are talking to a robot? Moreover, there were also questions about the abuse of the Duplex Technology like in election campaigns.
Nowadays there are a lot of concerns about the privacy online. So it might be a question that what kind of data these Digital Assistants might collect and who will use this data. Moreover, a lot of people think that it is an ethical breach by the caller if the other person does not know that he/she is talking to a software or a Digital Assistant.
Another ethical concern might be that if an appointment is made by the Digital Assistant and no one shows up at the appointment then who is responsible for not showing up. Similar concerns are like, setting up of wrong time of appointment and if the cancellation charges apply for an appointment, then who is to be held accountable for that.
So far, where the ease of a busy person and the assistance to a small business is concerned, the use of Digital Assistant seems to be helpful. But when it raises ethical concerns, there might be a lot to think about using a robot or a software. Technological advances are only good as far as it does not break the ethical codes.