Google’s controversial Duplex artificial intelligence voice project could answer your next insurance call.
According to a report by The Information, an unnamed insurance company expressed interest in the technology. Duplex could handle “simple and repetitive” phone calls, a person close to the project told The Information.
Additionally, a human could step in when the insurance call gets too complicated.
While a natural next step for voice assistant technology like Duplex is an enterprise solution, Google made it clear that it will focus on consumers first in a statement to Engadget.
That isn’t to say Google won’t do enterprise; the company just wants to get the experience right with consumers first.
However, Google’s Duplex would be a force in the commercial landscape. Automated call centers are a normal occurrence. Seldom do these call centers sound human. That’s where Duplex has a leg up on current technology and competitors in the space.
Amazon, for example, said it will offer commercial versions of Alexa for call centers. However, as good as Alexa is, it doesn’t mimic human speech as well as Duplex.
That mimicry of human speech is an ethical quandary as well — one that Google is tiptoeing around. The search giant said Duplex will declare itself an AI when making calls.
Additionally, Google CEO Sundar Picahi wrote in a blog post that Google has a responsibility to get Duplex right.
It’s good to see the company focussing on the ethical side of Duplex and taking its time to get it right. After Google secretly removed the “don’t be evil” clause from its code of conduct, there was concern over how the company would proceed with AI. That kind of technology — especially on the level of Duplex — creates a lot of opportunities for being evil.
Regardless of Google’s plans, the technology isn’t quite ready for use in call centers. Considering how often my Google Home says “I don’t understand that” or “I don’t know how to help with that” when I ask it basic questions, its unlikely the technology can handle an insurance claim.