Every year at I/O, Google’s annual developer conference, the company brings forward an exciting set of products and services. These give us a glimpse of what you can expect from Google over the remaining part of the year. Some of these products and services ship, some get delayed, while some are silently shelved.
This year, Google amazed everyone with a single demo. They could have just ended the keynote right there. I am not sure how Google’s stock situation played around at that time. But that was a moment that left everyone asking for more.
Google showed off an upcoming Assistant feature that will enable the virtual assistant to make calls on your behalf. Yes, you could just ask Assistant to reserve a table for you at a fine restaurant for the weekend. And it would follow your command like a nice guy.
The demo looked unreal. There was nothing robotic about the small phone call conversation we saw during the keynote. With heuristics and so much machine learning swag Google baked into this product, it sounded like two normal people having a conversation over the phone. It blew my mind. It blew a lot of minds, I’m sure.
It is exciting. It’s horrifying too. For one, it’s going to get super hard to determine if the voice on the other end is a real person or a robot. Secondly, if you let your imagination stretch, this could be an insane product for a perfect crime thriller, only this is in the real world.
Scammers would want something like this at their fingertips. This is even easier, it’s just a ‘Hey, Google’ call away. Gullible people on the other end of the phone wouldn’t have a clue what just happened. The possibilities are, if I may say, endless.
This service is like one of those products you’d see in movies that just cannot get into the wrong hands. No doubt Google is already aware of it. This is why it’ll roll out the feature slowly, and it will be highly controlled, offering a very limited set of use-cases, at least to begin with.
Apart from that, letting Google Assistant place calls for yourself could be a whole lot fun too. Personally, I’d like to setup automated calls to tell my folks I’ll come downstairs for dinner in ‘five more minutes’. Ideally, I want all my phone calls to work like this so I don’t need to answer or make calls ever again.
I am counting on Google to let users train the AI systems with their own voice at the next I/O, or maybe the one after that, whatever floats their boat. I am also hoping Google would extend this to actually answering calls, and taking messages while you’re busy. That sounds like more of a ‘smart’ voicemail though, but I’ll have it. I’m even ready to switch to Android if all this happens.