If you are working for Safaricom or any other company as a customer care representative then it is time you packed your things in readiness to quit. This is because Google has perfected the Google Assistant that is now doing a great job at talking to humans, thanks to Google Duplex: An AI System for accomplishing real world tasks over the phone.
Recently, Google announced that it had developed a new technique for its AI to better understand and speak human language in the most natural way possible; actually indistinguishable from a human speaker. To demonstrate this, Google yesterday played two pre recorded phone calls initiated by bots through Google Assistant but received by humans. In the first demo, a bot calls a salon to book a haircut for a client, whereas in the second demo a bot calls a hotel to make a reservation for four.
The beauty of Google Duplex that is about to be released on Google Assistant is the way it will enable the Google Assistant speak the human language. Before now, the computer generated speech has been robotic despite the huge improvements that have been made for the speeches to mimic human language ever Siri was launched by Apple on iPhone 4s. Before now, bots like Google Assistant haven’t been able to speak the way humans do. They haven’t been able to say same sentences differently to pass different meanings, nor intonate same words differently to convey different expressessions, an art of speaking linguistics term as latency. As Wired puts it, “Google engineers have trained Google Duplex to match expectations around latency, like pauses after someone says “Hello?”, and to change intonation depending on how the conversation flows. In other words, to react the way humans do when speaking on the phone”
And that’s why the customer care representatives whose work is to receive and make calls must now pack and get ready to quit. Believe it or not, Google Assistant is not just getting better at speaking to humans the same way humans speak to themselves, but also at understanding any possible query that can be made by a customer of a particular firm. Take Safaricom as an example; don’t you think by now all possible issues that Safaricom customers call to be resolved are known by Safaricom database of customer problems, except of course of infinitesimally small number of cases? And don’t you think the bots that made the calls to make reservations linked to above can’t be taught how to answer these problems in different but personal touching ways? The beauty of it is, just like real humans who sit at personal care desks, when the bots will receive problems they cannot handle, they will be able to channel the queries up the managerial ladder so that a human manager who manages them can then resolve the difficult query.
But there is one more thing I have noticed from remarkable breakthrough that has come from Google, and that is no one is spared in the quest for robots to take all jobs from mankind, including artistic jobs like acting, dancing, drawing, writing, composing music and singing, and the list is endless. The way robots will take over art will be explored in a future date, but right now I want to speculate on acting.
Many actors especially Kenyan actors when called to act for a screen (movie/tv show) tend to speak robotically, specifically poetically, forgetting that screen acting is all about speaking the natural way possible. This is predominant for movies/series that are well scripted and where directors do not allow actors to improvise the dialogue. As director myself, it has occured to me that this problem has no easy fix except for putting the actors under several days/weeks of rehearsals before principal photography can take place, a process that makes the entire production be so costly and unaffordable for zero budget films that I do.
For directors like me therefore, working with humanoids with the capabilities of the just to be released Google Assistant would be the better option; go to a store, purchase the required number of robotic humanoids that match the descriptions of the characters in a screenplay, and give them roles accordingly. Hopefully by that time the cost of acquiring one robotic humanoid will be cheaper than hiring a professional actor.