Playing detective, hunting down the truth about that Google Duplex restaurant

Start off by reading John Gruber’s take on the fact or fiction of Google Duplex AI calling a restaurant and making a reservation.

Lot’s of interesting details here. Almost like a crime drama. Was the Google Duplex demo genuine? Was it staged?

Was the restaurant called without prior notice? If so, was a phone call recorded without prior consent?

From the Digital Media Law Project:

California’s wiretapping law is a “two-party consent” law. California makes it a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, including a private conversation or telephone call, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.

It’s possible the demo was genuine and the Duplex team didn’t think this through. Seems to me more likely that this was staged, showing off technology that certainly exists, at least in pieces. And if it was staged, that call seems likely to have been recorded with the restaurant’s permission.

Also worth reading is the Twitter thread that shows John Gruber reaching out to followers to help figure out which restaurant was the one in question. Here’s the start of the thread. I found the whole thing fascinating.

And for dessert, here’s Google Duplex calling your parents.