You talkin’ to me? Google Duplex tech takes A.I. chatbots to the next level

Paging Alan Turing

Most of us know when we’re talking to a robot or a robotic voice on the phone. But what if your in-home digital assistant could make some calls for you and the person on the other end of the line had no idea they were talking to Alexa, or Siri, or Google Assistant? One of the demos shown at Google’s I/O conference yesterday was pretty stunning. Called Google Duplex, it’s basically a natural-voice type of interaction system for your Google Assistant, wherein your homebot makes call for you to schedule an appointment or do other tasks.

C/NET’s Andrew Gebhart gave it a go and seeing how the system uses very human-like pauses such as “um” and so on, it’s almost impossible to tell that a machine is one of the parties talking. Which one is the robot? Watch the whole video for the answer. It’s clearly a big step forward for A.I. tech that directly interacts with humans. Duplex is not available yet, but at some point it will be, and it’s a pretty good look at the future capabilities of our new homebot friends. Check out the amazing full video along with our complete coverage of Google’s I/O event.

And now: Chatbot playdates

Speaking of chatty AIs getting… ever more chatty, one of the big announcements at Microsoft’s Build event this year was the revelation that Amazon’s Alexa AI bot and Microsoft Cortana counterpart will make friends and possibly share in the future subjugation of all humanity!

But, right before that happens, the two will have tea and play nice while helping you with your daily human difficulties. Yes, you’re going to have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” or visa versa, but once open, the demo at the Build show indicates they’ll pretty much work as normal. It’s still in Beta of course, but you can sign up to keep up on how the project is going.

Enjoy those 250 TOS updates on your phone

Over to Apple now, and the walled garden is getting some weeding done as Cupertino appears to be cracking down on apps that send location data to third parties. Apps have been disappearing from the App Store if they’ve been found to be in violation of Apple’s data location codicils, known as 5.1.1 and 5.1.2.

Part of the housecleaning is due to recent privacy snafus across the tech industry in general, but app makers and tech companies in general are feeling the heat from the upcoming “GDPR” data privacy standards about to take effect in Europe. And since app makers don’t really want to make a bunch of versions of their apps for separate countries or regions, it seems like the GDPR rules are becoming unintentionally defacto here in the states and elsewhere as well.

So who’s apps are getting their plugs pulled? Hard to tell straight away as they are reposted once in compliance, but you can bet more and more are going to go ghost for a little while as the GDPR deadline of May 25th draws ever closer.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.


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