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Google Adds Two New Artificial Intelligence Features To Its Applications

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As  The Verge and CNET report, Google is adding two new AI features to its applications. The first is the  Smart Compose feature that will help Google Docs users, while the second is the capability for the users to buy movie tickets through its Duplex booking system.

Smart Compose

With Smart Compose, when it becomes fully available, the users will be able to access “AI-powered writing suggestions outside of their inbox.” At the moment, “only domain administrators can sign up for the beta.”

This new feature will use Google’s machine learning models which will study the user’s “past writing to personalize its prompts (in Gmail you can turn this feature off in settings).” Theoretically, this would mean that Smart Compose is supposed to give writing suggestions based on the writing style of the user.

The Verge suggests  that “Smart Compose to Google Docs could be a big step up for the tool, challenging its AI autosuggestions with a larger range of writing styles.” The new tool could be applied to all documents that can be created with the application – “from schoolwork to corporate planning documents,” to first drafts of a novel.

In the beginning, Google will limit Smart Compose’s reach and will target businesses only. As mentioned, Smart Compose for Docs is only available in beta, only in English, and only domain administrators can volunteer to test it. (You can sign up for it here.)

Google Duplex

Another feature that Google announced on November 21, is Duplex on the Web, a tool that can be used as a booking service that lets users buy movie tickets easily.

As CNET notes, the “ service is available on Android phones. To use it, you'd ask the Assistant — Google's digital helper software akin to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri — to look up showtimes for a particular movie in your area. The software then opens up Google's Chrome browser and finds the tickets. “

To offer the service Google partnered with “ 70 movie theater and ticket companies, including AMC, Fandango and Odeon.” The company plans to expand the booking system to car rental reservations next.

The AI software itself included in the tool is “patterned after the human speech, using verbal tics like ‘uh’ and ‘um.’ It speaks with the cadence of a real person, pausing before responding and elongating certain words as though it's buying time to think.” Duplex actually premiered last year and offered to book for restaurants and hair salons. “Google later said it would build in disclosures so people would know they were talking to automated software.“

As explained, in the new Duplex version for ordering movie tickets works as follows: “Once you've asked the Assistant for movie tickets, the software opens up a ticketing website in Chrome and starts filling in fields. The system enters information in the form by using data culled from your calendar, Gmail inbox and Chrome autofill (like your credit card and login information). 

Throughout the process, you see a progress bar, like you'd see if you were downloading a file. Whenever the system needs more information, like a price or seat selection, the process pauses and prompts you to make a selection. When it's done, you tap to confirm the booking or payment.”

Former diplomat and translator for the UN, currently freelance journalist/writer/researcher, focusing on modern technology, artificial intelligence, and modern culture.