Techtonic 2018

Technology’s New Frontier

Artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet of things are fast becoming the fulcrum of business transition


At its annual developer conference (I/O) on May 10, Google unveiled Duplex, a new technology that allowed its virtual assistant to have a conversation with a human over the phone, completing real-world tasks such as fixing a salon appointment and making a dinner reservation. You could tell the assistant to make an appointment or reservation and it would then make the call, talk to the person respond to questions, negotiate timing and even thank the person at the end. While Duplex is bringing natural language processing, deep learning and text-to-speech technology together, what is remarkable is that the conversation was so natural that the other person didn’t realise that he or she was talking to a bot because it changed annotation according to the flow of the conversation. While computers have been able to understand and generate natural speech, automated phone conversations are still stilted, and Duplex is the fulfilment of a long-standing goal of enabling humans to have a natural conversation with computers.