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Worried about fake news? Get set for fake humans

Chatbot discussion
Speakers at a Seattle University event organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest discuss human-machine interaction with a word cloud displayed on the screen behind them. The words were provided by the audience to answer a question: “What scares you the most about technology?” (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

We have heard the voice of our future AI overlord — and it’s making hair appointments for us.

Last week, Google wowed the world by demonstrating a voice assistant called Duplex that sounds eerily human on the telephone, right down the um’s and mm-hmm’s that it uses during its chat with a scheduler at a hair salon.

Some are now questioning how true-to-life the demo actually was. But even if some liberties were taken, Google Duplex was an eye-opener for experts who gathered at Seattle University on Wednesday night for an AI-centric event presented by MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest.

“Seeing that happen so quickly, I think, was a real shock for some people,” said Kat Holmes, a Microsoft veteran who’s the founder of the design company Kata and the author of “Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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