I can’t say I saw this coming. After launching in 2019 and making everyone uncomfortable, Google’s mesmerizing yet terrifying Duplex AI is being shut down for the web. The technology began as a smart feature for booking haircut appointments, fixing up your passwords, and buying products among other fringe use cases.
TechCrunch reports that it spoke with Google directly and learned that it intends to use Duplex in other helpful ways. However, it wasn’t exactly about what that meant, which gives me pause. In my mind, I translate this as it taking a B2B approach and having less transparency with such a powerful AI. Here’s to hoping that enough separate parties are holding Google its AI principles.
“By the end of this year, we’ll turn down Duplex on the Web and fully focus on making AI advancements to the Duplex voice technology that helps people most every day.”Google Spokesperson to TechCrunch
Two days ago, the Duplex on the Web user agent was retired for developers, as outlined on Google Search Central. This tool is how devs would point Duplex to content on the web that it could crawl and index for AI responses. However, it was “resource intensive” and not iron-clad in its reliability to train the company’s machine learning models.
We currently have no idea what the future holds for Duplex, but I’m interested in finding out more. In the meantime, Duplex on the Web partners have already been notified via Email of the shutdown and that’s that. Let me know what you think in the comments.
I think that using Duplex for Google apps and services is the best way to keep users involved in its growth and development. I just hope that there’s enough AI ethics accountability in place behind the scenes – a place where such a thing should never reside.