back to article Google's socially awkward geeks craft socially awkward AI bot that calls people for you

Google today opened its annual I/O developer bash with details of how it’s going to lob machine-learning software at everything you do online and offline, and it truly means everything. CEO Sundar Pichai took to the stage in Silicon Valley to explain how artificial intelligence will make life easier, safer, and more fun for …

  1. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Terminator

    "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

    Why am I immediately reminded of this? ------------------------------------------->

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re. "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

      But will its word be an enforceable contract? Who pays for the consequences of bugs? What happens if it makes a call and gets another one at the other end? How long before it gets hacked?

      "Where's all my spondoolicks?"

      "You called me yesterday and told me to transfer $10,000,000 to an offshore bank account."

      "No I didn't"

      "Oh, yes you did!"

      "Oh, no I didn't!"

      ...

      Exercise for the student: in the above conversation, is either or both of these interlocutors a Google bleepy thing?

      Exercise for the advanced student: continue the following conversation:

      "Hi, Darling."

      "Hi, Mommy!"

      "Sweetheart, can you stop by the drugstore on your way home? There's a man in a black sedan who has got something for me."

      >

    2. ciaran

      Re: "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

      No, its "the box" from Star Cops, 1980's british SF series.

      https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088613/

      The writer planned that the box would use the owner's voice, but the director used a different voice. Making some dialog strange. The box had to ring his girlfriend and reserve a restaurant, the dialog said "be annoying, she won't know the difference". Bit of a fail on that side but the whole thing was worth it. I bought the DVDs when they came out...

      1. tony2heads

        Re: "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

        Google are starting to morph into the Sirius Cybernetics corporation with 'socially awkward' AI.

        Share and Enjoy!

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

      And this from the same people who want you to unlock your phone with your voice.

      Much better than an Apple password (for the fuzz or anyone else who wants your phone data)

    4. Joseph Haig

      Re: "The software pretends to be you, or act for you"...

      Actually, I'm thinking more of this.

  2. intrigid

    Run out of ideas

    Reading over the list of innovations in the article, it's startling to me just how bone dry the barrel is that they're scraping ideas from now. I genuinely feel pity for anyone that is excited at anything mentioned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More Tracking & Monitoring Sexy New Slurp:

      Really just waiting for the day Google I/O announces this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWxYGiEOFtQ

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Yes, boring.

      The same features told over and over by different companies. Every of them trying to tell you where to go, what to do, what to read, what to listen, when to call someone etc. etc.

    3. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Run out of ideas

      Keep your pity, calling people is awful and I hate doing it - I put off cancelling internet for 2 months after moving out of my last house because the ISP required you call them - it bothers me that much.

      Now if only this weren't usable for so many malicious purposes...

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Run out of ideas

        It gets easier when you accept that they are usually total morons, and your job is to hide the fact that you think so from them.

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Run out of ideas

        That's why they do it...instant profit...

    4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      I genuinely feel pity for anyone that is excited at anything mentioned.

      That's because you're not the CEO of a US giga corp that makes it's money shoveling as much of your personal data as possible into it's data bases to sell ever more advertising at ever higher rates to ever more customers who are desperate not to be left behind in online advertising, who you also happen to generate most of the statistics for.

      If you were you'd have been hugely tumescent listening to the presentation.

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    The only rational response...

    Burn it. Burn it with fire.

    "Pichai also explained how Google’s News feature is being AI-augmented. "

    Ah, I see that they weren't satisfied with how they ruined Google News and want to ruin it even more.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: The only rational response...

      Oooh, yes. I'd forgotten about Google News. Used to be quite handy. Killed it off ages ago.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. SVV Silver badge

    Irreverance

    "Fingers tightly crossed the robot overlords appreciate El Reg's puns, sarcasm, and irreverence toward corporate power."

    If they called an operating system Android Pee and nobody laughed so much that they were in danger of doing so themselves, I think we can safely conclude that that's a "No".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Irreverance

      I would prefer Android Pee than iOS, which every release for the last 2 years has been iOS Shit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iOS Shit

        I know changing "P" to "Pee" isn't very witty, but there's a spark of humour there. Adding "Shit" to the end of a name doesn't have even that tiny bit of comedy.

        Still, how butt hurt you sound makes up for it.....

        1. ArrZarr Silver badge

          Re: iOS Shit

          Especially as you can use the S from iOS to start the word or merely just say that's what the S stands for.

          But then, in my experience, people who use the phrase "butt hurt" do tend to be the kind of people who consider changing "P" to "Pee" the pinnacle of humour.

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Irreverance

        What's wrong with iOS?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Irreverance

          A release every other week to patch security holes cropping up all over the shop like a giant whack a mole, and each release breaking a tonne of stuff. It's been getting more and more unstable over the last 2 major releasees.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A release every other week to patch security holes

            Well yeah, Android definitely doesn't have that "problem". My phone is still running exactly the same code as when I bought it a year ago. Take that Apple!!!!!

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: Irreverance

          A downvote doesn't really explain anything.

          What is wrong with iOS, I really would like to know!?

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Go

    "the phone will check your orientation"

    Great. Just the thing for phones with a shit compass, like my Nexus 6P...

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: "the phone will check your orientation"

      "Just the thing for phones with a shit compass, like my Nexus 6P"

      My phone doesn't have a compass at all. Not to worry though, there's no chance it will actually get updated to the current version of Android, let alone the next one. That seems to be the big thing these sorts of announcements always miss - there's no point trying to get us excited about all the amazing features you've come up with when we know our phones won't actually get to use them.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Waymo at Google I/O

    "Waymo CEO John Krafcik, shows how its fleet of fully self driving cars can now travel on public roads, starting in Phoenix, Arizona."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrJ4-AUL4U0

    I was hoping to see a self-driving car drive on to the stage and run over the CEO. But it was not to be

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Waymo at Google I/O

      "I was hoping to see a self-driving car drive on to the stage and run over the CEO. But it was not to be"

      Wrong company.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In an ideal world

    Big tech companies such as Google and Microsoft would be broken up from time to time through good old antitrust laws.

    Everyone would be better off.

  9. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Devil

    SPAM Robo-Callers Are In L♥ve With Artificial Imposters (AI)

    Happy: The "AI" voices are to the point of being (mostly) unrecognizable from living humans. Their banter, grasp of grammar and speech patterns is now very good. Their speech recognition is at last climbing above the 90% correct wall.

    Sad: So what are we going to HATE about this technology? Every bad attitude, user-abusing company on the planet is going to be using this "AI" (Artificial Imposter) technology within a higher level of social engineering scams. Inevitable. Horrifying. Such is humanity.

    (o_O)

    Next up: Artificial Imposter (AI) CGI faces for video calls. Watch the techno-hate meter hit the red zone. Neo-Ludditism becomes a craze.

    :-Q*****

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: SPAM Robo-Callers Are In L♥ve With Artificial Imposters (AI)

      Neo-Ludditism becomes a craze.

      Neo-Ludditism is the only sane response....

      Speech recognition climbing above 90%

      - Not if you have a regional accent.

  10. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    Pretend to be a human.

    [the assistant will] talk to humans on your behalf without revealing itself to be a bot

    That is guaranteed to be a success provided you cannot pass the Turing test.

  11. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    The END of telemarketing?!?

    One can only imagine what robo-callers are going to do with [Duplex].

    One can only imagine what this will do to robo-callers: let them talk, indefinitely, to a mumbling AI that asks them repeatedly to go over the amazing offer in more and more detail, thus wasting their time. They will go our of business in a month once this technology becomes ubiquitous!

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      let them talk, indefinitely, to a mumbling AI that asks them repeatedly to go over the amazing offer

      I think you've actually found a benign use for this technology.

  12. Nifty

    Implication for voice recognition banking security?

    Where you get asked some simple questions by the bank system, and it uses your previously trained voice print to validate your access.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right. A family-run Chinese restaurant with absolutely zero background noise. Not fabricated at all.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very impressive

    Whilst it wasn't live, it was a real conversation, which is pretty darned impressive for machine learning.

    Not sure I would use this, but ft he spinoffs and ramifications this sort of technology brings is HUGE.

    In the sector I work in, I can immediately see some usecases

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Very impressive

      The main real world use case I can see is "better" spam phone calls.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    Hey Google...

    ....can you delete everything you know about me and stop tracking me in the future.

    I'm sorry, I didn't understand the question. Did you mean "How can I personalise my experience by adding more Google services?"

  16. //DLBL SYSRES

    Knowledge is power and Google are certainly sucking up a lot of personal data.

  17. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Counter-strategy

    When the phone rings, start by asking "Hello, What is the capital of Turkmenistan?"

    If the caller answers correctly, put the phone down.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Counter-strategy

      When the phone rings, start by asking "Hello, What is the capital of Turkmenistan?"

      If the caller answers correctly, put the phone down.

      I'm tempted to do this next time I get a human cold caller. It'll confuse the hell out of them.

      Oh, and for those who are wondering: Ashgabat.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Counter-strategy

      Heh, I once asked an unscheduled skype conversationalist a similar trick question.

      "Who's the President of the United States?"

      To which they answered "it's me!".

      which seemed to me a humourous answer.

      But it was just a bot trolling for "friends".

      And then the next one I chatted to (I was bored at a previous work place...) was a real person and I was real cynical and hard on them, lol.

  18. Denarius Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I am beginning to think

    the Amish have a good point

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: I am beginning to think

      Taking you seriously...

      The Amish do have some good points. Those I have met have been without exception nice people. Their precautionary principle approach to technology is in many ways admirable.

      But their way of life isn't actually sustainable for a large population. If they continued to have large families and expand due to the availability of modern sanitation (reduces infant mortality) they would eventually come up against severe land use pressure and eventually you'd get Amish resource wars, infanticide or probably both.

      That they don't is largely because the rest of us have adopted the modern technology that they don't use.

      Also see Quakers still being around in the UK because the rest of the population didn't adopt their attitude to non-violence in 1939.

      An in-between is needed and some of the Amish are adopting it. Personally I would like to see a lot more regulation of social media and AI. The problem is finding anyone I would trust to regulate it - and I certainly wouldn't trust myself. Too many media proprietors hanging from lamp-posts makes things untidy.

  19. fuzzie

    GDPR

    Since it's the elephant de jour. I've not heard any noises about how Android will be dealing with GDPR. Would it required, when you're setting up a new phone, to go through a proper detailed list of opt-in selections. What happens to ones you don't opt-in? Or is Google going to push getting consent to the OEMs? I bet they'll just assume existing accounts are opted in and treat them as no-ops.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GDPR

      Ditto apple, as they also sell your info to advertiser's on their advertising referred to in their privacy policy....

  20. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Our core mission is to make information more available and ultimately more profitable”

    TFTFY

  21. cookieMonster

    I see you've been to pornhub

    Time for a wank??

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: I see you've been to pornhub

      "I see you've been to pornhub

      Time for a wank??"

      Like all "intelligent" ads, too late.

  22. Craigie

    News

    Does this mean that Google will finally fix the bugs in Google News that prevent you from filtering out the content of more than one shitrag (Mail, Sun, Express) at a time?

  23. handleoclast Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Have your bot talk to my bot about it

    This can only end well

    That's all I can say on the matter because my bot and Dave's bot agreed on that, and then told us both what they'd committed us to.

  24. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    If this thing can call my internet provider and tell them what I want, and don't want, I'm all for it. It can waste an hour talking to some dimwit.

  25. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Privicy be damned...

    ...Some people may value their privacy, and so won't be getting much use out of these new AI features....

    ...some of us value the ability to make our own decisions....

  26. annodomini2
    Devil

    Could be useful for...

    When you get [insert giant tech company name] support callers.

    Train it to waste as much of their time as possible.

  27. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "explain how artificial intelligence will make life easier, safer, and more fun for everyone"

    So, The Circle has already become a documentary then ?

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Just to be clear Google wants to mediate *all* conversations between humans everywhere.

    Still not sounding creepy enough for some people?

    Creepy Eric.

    Still creepy.

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