Google’s Duplex Relies Heavily on Humans for Its AI

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Google with 6 Comments

Google Duplex, the company’s crazy AI system that can pretend to be a real human to help book restaurants and hair appointments, has been rolling out over the past year. Google is slowly expanding the availability of Duplex to make it more accessible to users, but it turns out the feature still relies heavily on humans instead of pure AI.

According to a new report from the New York Times, Google Duplex often uses real humans in call centers for bookings. The publication made a bunch of test appointments through Duplex on Google Assistant, and among the four successful bookings, three were done by humans.

Google confirmed that the company is actually using real humans to help with bookings when the AI is unable to or is confused about something. About 25% of the calls placed through Duplex were started by a human, while 15% of those that began with an automated system was intervened by a human at some point.

Google continues to rely on humans for Duplex as it doesn’t want to make the experience worse for restaurant and business owners. And thus by using humans, the company is making the experience less awful for business owners while using the data to further improve the AI. “The company was not aggressively trying to eliminate human involvement from Duplex, because that could make the experience for business owners worse. Instead, he said, Google was trying to improve the automated system over time and slowly decrease the need for humans to intervene”, the New York Times wrote.

Google’s Duplex AI is still very impressive — when the calls were carried out completely by an AI, the system worked almost flawlessly and sounded like a real human, much like Google demonstrated when it first introduced Duplex. The system is very much under construction, so it’s not very smooth — yet.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Google’s Duplex Relies Heavily on Humans for Its AI”

  1. karlinhigh

    Interesting. I always wondered how Duplex would go down for the people receiving the calls. I expect it will take a little for everyone to get used to, just like it was with automated phone system menus.

  2. ebnador

    What happens when this tech gets so good that not only are the AI making the reservations but there is AI receiving the calls. Then you would have AI talking to AI in a spoken language that normal people can understand..... I can't even think of all the ramification of that.

  3. dontbe evil


  4. rm

    I don't remember them stating that when Duplex was first shown off. If I am right about that, then they where or where going to be outed by someone and had to come clean. I guess their AI is not as good as originally suggested and still is not. I wonder if it is stated in the Duplex privacy that humans are reading/listening to what you are saying!

  5. Jackwagon

    I hope they'll fine-tune the AI based on the quality of the human responses, at least.