Google has moved to reassure the world that its new, remarkably-human sounding voice assistant won't try to pass itself off as a person.
The preview has led to a widespread outcry across the tech spectrum, many calling it scary and creepy while others raising various ethical and moral questions.
As a result of the fallout, Google has finally brought some clarity to the matter.
The most talked-about, futuristic product from Google's developer show isn't even finished yet - and Google hasn't agreed how to do it. "But it's equally clear that we can't just be wide-eyed about what we create", he wrote in a blog post.
Using Google Duplex, which the search giant revealed on Monday, time-strapped smartphone owners can ask their phone to make a call on their behalf. And Pichai made no reference of this bot announcing itself as an electronic assistant - leaving the audience perplexed about Google's goals for its AI technology.More news: India Committed To 'Samriddha Nepal, Sukhi Nepali': PM Modi Statement
The new human-like speaking ability takes Google Assistant another step closer towards passing the Turing test, a test proposed by Alan Turing, an English computer scientist in 1950 where a computer's natural language responses would need to sound like a human's in order to pass. Duplex makes the booking over phone calls and it sounds human-like the person on the other end may have a hard time figuring it out.
"What's going to happen to small retailers when a significant part of the phone calls they're receiving are not from people?"
The digital assistant was also programmed to understand when to respond quickly, such as after someone says "hello", versus pausing as a person might before answering complex questions. TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas slammed Google in an article titled "Duplex shows Google failing at ethical and creative AI design" while the Washington Post's Drew Harwell asked, "Should it be required to tell people it's a machine?"
The Telephone records of Duplex reserving a hair appointment and restaurant reservation did not include disclosures. It may not be a leap of the level of quantum computing, but it is, in its own right a leap that could change how individuals and businesses function in the coming days.
Pichai announced that its AI Assistant is getting six new voices, to make it more conversational and natural.
"There are going to be some rigid boundaries as to what Duplex can do, and if you're interested in tricking the system and determining if it's a human on the line or not, you could certainly do that", he said.