Google I/O 2018 : Google Assistant Gets New Conversational Skills
Artificial Intelligence is a general theme at the 2018 Google I/O conference. Ever since the Google Pixel 2 devices were launched, the company has talked up AI a lot and its Google Assistant is about to become much smarter than it already is. At the conference, Google demonstrated the Google Assistant’s ability to have a human-like conversation with other humans in a non-controlled environment and it was nothing short of impressive. The technology is called Google Duplex and the company has been working on it for years.
Sundar Pichai came on stage and talked a bit about Google Assistant’s integration with many services. He then mentioned that Google Assistant can now set up appointments and make restaurant reservations. The catch here is that it can do this even if a certain outlet is not listed on a restaurant booking app. Sundar Pichai said:
We’ve been working on this technology for many years. We’re still developing this technology, and we want to work hard to get this technology and the expectations right.
He then demonstrated a real conversation between the Google Assistant and a salon rep for a “women’s haircut appointment.” The conversation did not sound staged and that is what made it even more impressive. The Google Assistant was able to recognise where the conversation was headed and gave absolutely normal responses, never once making the “human” feel like they are talking to an AI assistant and not a person.
The blog post from the company reads:
The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine.
Fair to say that, going by the demos, the company appears to have got the tech absolutely right. It will be interesting to see how Google localises this technology for other countries. It will be great to see Google Assistant have the same abilities and be integrated with Indian services and maintain the Indian accent as well.