Q: “Sundar, could you make a dinner reservation?”

A: “Naturally.”

Developments in AI technology aim to make everyday life easier. In particular, voice assistants are a growing phenomenon with strong new platforms being delivered simultaneously by many of the big technology companies.

At Google’s annual I/O developers conference on Tuesday, the company outlined a new enhancement known as Duplex for Google Assistant. The technology is able to make phone calls to people using a more lifelike voice, compared to rival voice assistants such as Apple’s ‘Siri’ and Microsoft’s ‘Cortana’.

Some notable features are the addition of human-like pauses, verbal ticks, such as ‘um’ and ‘ah’, and the elongation of words and phrases. Additionally, the use of more intonation and accents convey a wider range of human emotions, giving the AI a livelier feel. This technology may allow people to direct the Assistant to make calls about restaurant reservations, doctor appointments and general enquiries, without ever having to do the talking themselves. Furthermore, Google Assistant will feature six new voices, including the voice of singer John Legend.

The development of advanced voice assistants is another step for lifelike AI and sophisticated software bots integrating further into the real world.

Read more: BBC / The Verge / The Verge (2) / CNET / SMH

This story is taken from the 11 May 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.