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Many Google Duplex calls are from real people instead of AI

The AI still isn't ready to handle many calls.
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AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Google's Duplex reservations might be more widely available, but that doesn't mean the AI is ready to handle every call. The company has confirmed to the New York Times that about 25 percent of the Assistant-based calls start with a human in a call center, while 15 percent require human intervention. In the newspaper's tests, the ratio was higher -- real people completed three out of four of their successful bookings.

There are multiple reasons for relying on the human touch. In one case, Duplex didn't appear to pick up the cues that reservations were available. It may also need training on more real-world calls before it can handle every situation. More importantly, the company argued that it was taking a cautious approach. It wants to treat businesses with respect, and that means gradually transitioning to the AI as it becomes better-suited to dealing with staff.

If there's a main concern, it's that Google may have oversold Duplex's capability. It pitched the technology as capable of handling all kinds of reservations, but that's not always true. There's still a lot of learning left to do, and it could be a while before you can assume that an AI will handle tasks like this.

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