Google presented on its Google I/O 2018 exactly one really innovative thing:
An AI for voice calls which they call Google Duplex.
My own view
Now let me be clear: I consider an AI tool not really as a big innovation nowadays – it’s clear to me that AI will come more and more and it will be present in our lives from now on almost any day.
I think AI will be the most impactful technology of the next 25 years (a close second will be the quantum computer). Its purpose should be to help humans connect in better ways, show us possibilities that are too complex to grasp and help us with repetitive tasks.
In essence, I think AI should be seen as an asset to us and our day today work!
What Google showed us with Google Duplex was really a new step in the future… sadly in my view in a dystopian one at best.
Google showcased their AI assistant, making calls and making a real effort to hide it is actually an AI. The people in the calls were totally unaware they are speaking with a machine and that was the big thing, that was the intention from Googles side, that was the innovation.
Now I’m not saying I don’t understand them – clearly, people get irritated when they get called by an AI or a robotic sounding voice and the assistant would have it a lot harder to fulfill its tasks.
I get that and I absolutely see that this could be a reason why they created it in this way.
That said I think it totally goes against what we should use this technology for. Yes, I know somebody will invent it anyway so why not Google or another big company?
The truth is that the focus Google set’s here is really telling:
It is not about AI as a tool for humanity – it is about deceiving real human beings with AI and the possibilities of that.
I like to use a quote I read not so long ago.
Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and focus not only on making our AI better and more successful but also on the benefit of humanity.
— Steven Hawking, November 2017
The Future looks dark & cold
So what kind of future is Google showing us here?
Maybe the Utopia where we never miss making a birthday call to our friend?
Of course not because our AI companion reminds us, but because of our AI made the birthday call for us!
And how will it be on the other side then?
Will my friend actually take the call herself? Or will an AI take the call and be “super happy” about my “fake” birthday call from my AI?
Who has any benefits from us talking even less to each other? – Me? My Friend? Humanity?
On Facebook, we all see the wishes and gratulations on birthdays – but real friends still call or send private messages because it means it was not just an automatic gesture, it was not just because Facebook reminded us of a date we don’t really care about most of the times.
How Important will a call be when an AI with my voice can make calls?
Will people even notice that a real person was on the phone? And if not how can we be sure not all text & voice conversation is “fake”?
But maybe that’s the goal here, maybe Google is building a world where people don’t communicate anymore with each other…