More than two years after it initially began trials, Google’s AI-powered reservation service Duplex is now available in 49 US states. This appears to be the limit of Duplex’s coverage in the US for now, as Google tells us The edge it doesn’t have a timeline to launch the service in the last state – Louisiana – due to unspecified local laws.
Alignment with local law is one of the reasons Duplex has taken so long to roll out in the US. Google tells The edge it had to add certain features to the service (such as providing a callback number to companies that Duplex contacted) to make it legal in some states. In other countries, people simply wait for the legislation to change.
Google stunned audiences when it first unveiled Duplex at the 2018 I / O conference. As a function of Google Assistant, Duplex uses AI to call local businesses and make reservations at restaurants and hairdressers on your behalf with a realistic sounding artificial voice .
But as is often the case with tech demos, Google promised more than it could deliver. In 2019 it was announced that 25 percent of Duplex calls are made by humans and 19 percent of calls initiated by the automated system must be handled by humans. In our own reporting, we found that restaurants often confuse Duplex with automated spam robocalls.
It’s not clear what percentage of duplex calls are now being made by AI, but the service cannot have been burdened by too many restaurant reservations during pandemic lockdowns. With businesses starting to reopen this year, it will be interesting to see if Duplex can keep up.