In a nutshell: After first introducing it more than a year ago, Google is now beginning to test the international waters with its Duplex call-making AI. The pilot will only last for a day and only with a few businesses located in NewZealand.
Update (10/23/19): The pilot in New Zealand is not a part of wider plans to launch Duplex internationally. In an email to TechSpot, a spokesperson for the company said, "This is a very early pilot and we don't have any current plans to expand it further at the moment."
Google is taking its Duplex booking service outside the US for the first time with a pilot program in New Zealand. The company announced, beginning this week, it would be testing the technology in a limited capacity in the region — that being, it will only ask businesses about their holiday operating hours rather than booking reservations and such.
A small group of select businesses will be participating in the pilot on October 28, which is Labour Day in New Zealand. The information gained during the test will be used to update Google Maps and Search with the participating company’s holiday hours.
Duplex is currently being tested in its full capacity in the US. Android users can use it with the native Google Assistant app. Apple iPhone users can use it as well by downloading Google Assistant from the App Store.
Not everyone is keen about talking with a robot, especially one that sounds almost too human. Fortunately, Google had the sense to inform contacts that they were speaking with an automated system. It also allows businesses to opt-out if they do not wish to be contacted by Duplex.
Ironically enough, human operators (as opposed to the AI) place nearly 25 percent of all calls made by the service. Google noted this is because the AI is still struggling with more complex interactions. The company is using the data gathered by its Duplex call team to train the AI and improve its capabilities.
It is unclear if the New Zealand pilot is part of an upcoming international rollout. We have reached out to Google for further information and will update this article when they respond.