Nation & World

Google unveils robots that sound like humans

Google Duplex adds 'uhs' and 'ums' to its speech

Zuma Press

“We are at an important inflection point in computing,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai says.
Zuma Press “We are at an important inflection point in computing,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai says.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google CEO Sundar Pichai broke a new barrier in artificial intelligence technology Tuesday when he unveiled a voice assistant that sounds exactly like a human voice.

At the I/O developers conference, Pichai introduced Google Duplex, which allows the Assistant to speak with humanlike cadence and includes artificial intelligence that is able to comprehend context and unclear answers.

Pichai demonstrated Duplex’s ability by having Assistant make reservations with a restaurant and a hair salon in two recorded phone calls. The receivers of the calls seemed to have no idea they were speaking to an AI voice.

In the phone calls, Google Assistant said “ums” and “uhs” to make itself sound more human. In its phone call with the restaurant — where it was too busy to book a reservation — Google Assistant was able to naturally respond to questions and remarks made in a thick accent.

“We’ve been working on this technology for many years,” Pichai said. “We’re still developing this technology, and we want to work hard to get this technology and the expectations right.”

Pichai also introduced a slew of artificial intelligence-powered tools in its suite of apps, including Gmail’s upcoming ability to help compose emails and Google Photos’ edit suggestions and ability to automatically turn document photos into PDF files.

“We are at an important inflection point in computing,” Pichai said. “We know the path ahead needs to navigated carefully and deliberately.”

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.