Google Duplex: An Introvert’s Dream or the Tech We Love to Hate

In 2017, Google launched Smart Reply, which suggests three responses to your emails.

In 2018, Smart Compose arrived, which predictively offers complete sentences as you are drafting a message. Recipients of these messages may never realize the difference.

Now, Google Duplex allows humans to make their restaurant reservations and movie ticket purchases without sweating over speaking to a real, live person (which is a real fear some of us have!). Although you’re speaking with AI, it’s friendly, humane AI. It actually sounds like a Millennial Sophia.

Mashable called the new Google Duplex, the mm-hmm heard round the internet and there has been no shortage of debate over the wisdom in tech companies who treat the ethical ramifications as something to consider after a product is in use.

As people assimilate their lives with bots and the Internet of Things, these are valuable conversations. Maybe we should let Alexa, Cortana and Duplex converse amongst themselves and handle the chit-chat that takes up so much of our lives. For people with anxiety disorders, there is the added benefit that this takes a lot of stress off of many simple tasks, saving their energy for more worthwhile interactions.

As The Atlantic staff writer Alexis Madrigal opined, “Maybe none of it matters. Who needs small talk? All we’re doing is exchanging information, flipping a bit on a calendar from zero to one. So why not let an AI do that errand? There are bigger thoughts to think, children to spend quality time with, exercise to do, community groups to volunteer for, code to write.”

This realm is only expanding. What do you think about where we’re headed?

Reality Changing Observations:

1. Is the speaker more important than the message here?

2. How would you trust AI to manage such mundane messages as ordering pizza or scheduling a haircut?

3. What are the potential pitfalls to having AI handle our “small talk”?

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