Tech Thursday: Google steps up its AI features

The AI speaks and understands natural language much like the Duplex artificial intelligence feature for Google Assistant, which was announced earlier this month. Li demonstrated the technology which quickly responded to questions with relevant answers. The software interacted with humans on the phone and had what people said sounded like a normal conversation between a customer and a customer-service rep.

Reports said the demonstration was much like the one at the I/O conference this year where Google introduced Duplex, the AI for Google Assistant that can do many things including booking a reservation at a restaurant. People were unaware that they were talking to an AI and what started off as a fun demo soon became a contentious issue. Some journalist and ethicists warned that the AI could be dangerous in that it can fool humans and has the potential to take away people’s jobs.

This time around, Li knew all too well not to ruffle any feathers and re-iterated that the Google AI was not going to replace humans or take away their jobs. She said that the Contact Centre AI is an example of Google’s passion for bringing AI to every industry all the while elevating the role of human talent. Li told the audience: “We’re creating technology that’s not just powerful but that’s also trustworthy.”

Li is no stranger to controversy. Last year Google received backlash for its work with the military where they used AI to analyze drone video footage. Thousands of employees signed a petition demanding that Google stop the production and pledge not to build AI for weapons and Google obliged. It was a PR nightmare when an email exchange between Li and other managers leaked, suggesting that she was fine with going ahead with these types of programs that directly contradicted her AI ethics background.

Amongst the new changes, Google announced some new AI features for GSuite adding to its approximately 300 new capabilities. Some of these include new smart replies for Hangouts, autocomplete for emails and grammar suggestions for Google Docs.

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