Google Duplex is Coming – How it Could Affect Your Restaurant

Google both shocked and amazed audiences with its presentation of Google Duplex, a cutting-edge automated assistant technology. Google Duplex aims to accomplish small tasks such as booking a hair salon appointment or a dinner reservation in order to save the user time. Duplex also inquires about the service hours of businesses which updates the establishment’s webpage on Google Maps. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) system utilizes phone calls with real people and presents artificial voices that sound like human ones. Google Duplex’s audio includes voice inflections, pauses, and language common to human speech to present the user with a eerily lifelike voice. While Google’s latest technology boasts remarkable advancements in Artificial Intelligence, it could present some issues for businesses.

A primary concern for the restaurant industry in particular is the matter of booking reservations. There is nothing to stop a Google Duplex user from booking several reservations for the same night in hopes of obtaining the best restaurant at the best time. San Francisco restaurants could receive an incredibly disproportionate number of reservations, of which only a small fraction would actually be used by diners. Moreover, this potential influx of reservations could prevent non-Google Duplex users from booking a dinner reservation at their desired times, or from booking a reservation at all. People that have the economic means to use Google Duplex would have a clear advantage over those who do not use google products, or who cannot afford them, when seeking restaurant reservations.

Furthermore, local and federal legislation has not yet addressed Google’s recently launched technology. While Google affirms that Duplex will announce itself as a robot on every phone call, there no legislation to enforce this. Restaurateurs, waiters, and cooks could be speaking to robots everyday and not be aware of it.

If they so choose, restaurants can opt out of receiving calls from Google Duplex, however the AI system will not update the establishment’s service hours on Google Maps. Moreover, non-Duplex using restaurants could be disadvantaged against restaurants which accept calls from the AI system. Restaurants that accept calls from Duplex could have priority in receiving reservations and customers over restaurants that do not use Duplex.

While Google has presented Duplex as technology for individuals, it is possible that businesses and organizations will utilize it as well. Perhaps in the near future Duplex will replace secretaries and maitre d’s to answer phone calls. As Google begins to re-evaluate Google Duplex and respond to customer concerns, the restaurant industry , and the business world, will be eager to know the outcome.

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