Earlier this year, Google demonstrated a new service called Duplex - an AI-powered program that could make calls on your behalf and talk to operators to make reservations. Since then, Google Duplex has been available to a very small and select number of Google Pixel owners and only worked in a limited number of areas. That trial is now explaining to more users and places.
We're still sceptical about how real that demo at Google I/O was but the trial is proceeding, with a Google spokesperson telling VentureBeat that the trial "has expanded from a 'set of trusted tester users' earlier this year to a 'small group' of Google Pixel phone owners, who can now use Duplex via the Google Assistant to secure restaurant reservations in 'select cities'. Google had previously said New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco would be trial cities.
Although the tech looks impressive and interesting, surely a more robust and accurate way to solve the problem of making reservations would be for the AI to go to a restaurant's website, find the online reservations system and use that to show what options are available and fill in the booking form. As well as potentially being quicker, it solves the problem of voice recognition not being 100% perfect yet.
Eventually, and this may be many years away, there won't be any need for AI and voice recognition as such transactions will be carried out using APIs and micro-services. When you say "Hey Google, book me a table at the closest Thai restaurant for 8:00PM" it will work directly with the restaurant's reservation system without the need to talk to a person.
While making appointments is an interesting application of this AI, I can imagine broader applications in education, healthcare and other verticals where there is a need to make inquiries on larger data pools and receive curated information. But the kind of library service we awy in Ready Player One or the most recent version of The Time Machine is a long way off.