The Google Cloud Next 18 conference got underway on Tuesday and Dr. Fei Fei Li, Google’s chief AI scientist demonstrated a new AI system called Google Contact Center AI. This is designed to be the next generation of automated customer-service voices.
Li took the audience through a demonstration, showing off a system that deftly understood natural language and quickly responded to questions with pertinent answers. The software and human on the phone had what sounded like a normal conversation between a customer and a customer-service rep. It appears the days of keying into our handsets 1 for yes, and 2 for no may soon be a thing of the past.
The presentation echoed a similar demo at I/O this year. That’s when Google CEO Sundar Pichai showed off Duplex, the restaurant-booking digital assistant that sounded so human that people speaking to it on the phone were unaware they were talking to an automated system.
That freaked out some journalists and technology ethicists. The company was criticized for using a technology that could fool humans or snatch away jobs. This time, Li seemed intent on making sure that everyone understood that Google’s AI is not intended to put humans out of work.
“Contact Center AI is an example for our 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.”
Google’s management has said that AI is core to the company’s future and mission and leaders are trying to exploit it in retail, autonomous cars, search and advertising. Wall Street analysts have begun to predict big future earnings as a result of AI.
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