Ethics and freaking out
Google showing off Duplex
has kicked off a big debate about how ethical it is for a bot to talk on the phone to a human without revealing that it’s bot.
Some people are freaked out
by the whole idea, while others feel
any concern is overreaction.
- Duplex is an experiment that may not ever launch in its current form.
- They want to build some kind of disclosure into the system that the speaker is a bot, but haven’t figured out the best way yet.
The most pressing issue this story has flagged up is that tech companies need to accept people are way more sensitive to the potential negative sides of their products these days. And they need to preempt the outcry with sensible product development decisions and clear communication about safety and responsibility from the first time a product is shown off, even if it’s just a tech demo.
That’s at odds with traditional ‘build it fast and iterate’ approach in Silicon Valley, but tech companies will simply need to adjust quickly to the increased scrutiny they face. It’s as much about clear communication as it is ethics.
Anyway, Duplex’s case may not be a long-lived problem. At some point relatively soon, places like hairdressers and restaurants will no doubt have their own A.I. to answer their calls… and then neither caller will need to pretend to be human.