Google's AI Assistant Wants to Make Restaurant Reservations For You
Google Duplex, the artificially intelligent assistant that calls humans and makes dinner reservations—and other appointments—is now available in 43 states for people ok with outsourcing their social lives to technology.
The feature is only available to Pixel phone users right now, but will roll out to the iPhone and other Android devices in the “next few weeks,” according to a blog post from Scott Huffman, vice president of engineering for Google Assistant.
That is, as long as they’re not an Android device or iPhone in Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Indiana, Texas, and Nebraska.
“As we continue to bring Duplex technology to more users across the country, we want to ensure that we carefully respect local/state laws. We’re actively working to reach full coverage, but don’t have a timeline to share,” a Google spokesperson told Fortune in an email.
When a person tells Google Assistant to “make a reservation for four people on Friday” at a restaurant, and shares their preferred time, the AI then checks with online booking partners to see if they can find a time slot to accommodate the request. If that doesn’t work, Google Assistant will call a business to book an appointment. Google also offers businesses an option to opt-out of the AI-powered calls.
Google Duplex made its debut last May at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference in Mountain View, California. During the event, Google CEO Sundar Pichai played demo recordings between humans and the AI, which sounded human-like, even sprinkling in “ums” as it spoke.
The project raised privacy questions after the event, since the AI did not identify itself to unsuspecting restaurant hosts, and salon receptionists who answered the phone, and recorded the conversations. After the event, Google clarified to say that the AI assistant would identify itself at the start of a call.
“We want to be clear about the intent of the call so businesses understand the context,” a Google blog post said after the announcement. “We’ll be experimenting with the right approach over the coming months.”