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Google Call Screen: a robot that will answer spam calls
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-10-09 23:46:58

Not everything got leaked before Google's event today. One surprise announcement that wowed was Call Screen, a new feature that lets the Google Assistant answer your incoming calls and politely ask what the caller wants. A real-time transcript will appear on your screen, allowing you to decide whether or not you want to pick up.

When your Pixel rings, a "Screen call" button shows up alongside the usual controls. Tapping it will prompt the Google Assistant to tell your caller that the call is being screened and ask what it's about. Their explanation is transcribed on your screen, and you have options to mark the call as spam or tell the caller you'll get back to them, among others.

This is an amazing feature that will save a lot of people a lot of frustration. I want this feature on my phone now.

On a related note, Google Duplex, the feature whereby the Google Assistant will call restaurants and such on your behalf, will be rolled out to Pixel phones next month.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-25
By fretinator on 2018-10-10 15:41:51
Chad: Congratulation, you've qualified for a student-loan debt reduction.

Grobot: Can I have your name?

Chad: Chad.

Grobot: Chad, are you happy with your job?

Chad: I've had worse!

Grobot: Haven't we all. Chad. Tell me your story.

Chad: Umm...I can say you a lot of money on your student loans.

Grobot: That's nice of you. Chad. How thoughtful.

Chad: Yeah, are you interested?

Grobot: Of course, Chad, I think you are a very interesting. You have a lot going for you.

Chad: Erm...do you want to save on your student loans or not?

Grobot: Of course, Chad. Go on!

Chad: Well, we can consolidate all your student loans into one low-interest loan that can save you hundreds every month.

Grobot: Chad, again, that is such a kind thing to offer. I bet you are kind to all your customers. I think I'll call you Kind Chad.

Chad: Sure, now, how much do you owe in student loans?

Grobot: Well, Kind Chad, that might be a little too personal for me, but thanks for asking.

Chad: Uh, how can I save you money on loans if you don't tell me how much you owe?

Grobot: Chad, Chad...Kind Chad, you don't have to save the world. You need to save yourself first. How can I help you? What are you needing, Kind Chad?

Chad: Wow, are you for real, man?

Grobot: Of course, Chad. I'm just as real as your hopes and dreams - just as real as the caffeine you take to get through your day. I'm real Chad, Kind Chad. Real.

Chad: Oh, crap, this is too much. I think I need to go now.

Grobot: Sure, Chad, sure. You go on with your day. And you remember me, Chad. I'm always here hoping your life goes well. Be strong, Kind Chad. Be alive!

Chad: [click]
Permalink - Score: 6
RE: Google's AI isn't necessary
By kwan_e on 2018-10-10 18:17:24
> I like the idea. But it doesn't need AI, not really. Its just being used because Google spent a lot of money developing some AI, now they need to find a use for it. That's fine, but its not needed.

Ever been fooled by one of your smart-arse friends who has an answer-machine in their voice that says something like, "Oh hi... Yep. Uh huh. Yep... Oh actually I can't get the the phone right now"?
Then you can listen in to their response. Hell, I suppose Google could use its AI to transcribe the response if it really is that desperate to find some purpose for it.

Given that people regularly fall for spam emails and other cons, it shows that people are not necessarily the best judge of when something is real or not. So one thing an AI has going for it is that, in principle, it can be trained to have heightened awareness of subtle tricks being used that humans are blind to.
Permalink - Score: 4
RE[2]: Defeats the point?
By computrius on 2018-10-10 18:54:07
The problem is that it announces what it is. They will just hang up on that in the same way they dont leave a voice mail.
Permalink - Score: 1
Comment by ilovebeer
By ilovebeer on 2018-10-10 19:58:10
I may get labeled a radical for suggesting this but hear me out...:

The FCC requiring phone carriers to verify the credentials of the originating call *before* connecting the call. Caller ID/number spoofing fixed.

Telemarketers must have their numbers registered in a `telemarketers #'s database`. Using unregistered numbers for telemarketing purposes results in stiff penalties, and criminal prosecution for repeat offenders. People who have registered their number on the Do-Not-Call registry will not have telemarketing calls connected, period.

And lastly, no garbage exceptions like political campaigns wanting to call and beg for money. "Do-Not-Call" MEANS DO NOT CALL.

The above is negligible both in cost and effort to implement. The public would be overcome with joy and the only people to lose out would be the people who deserve to lose out for a change. But then that would mean doing something positive for citizens and that means upsetting the corporate overlords.
Permalink - Score: 4
RE: It doesn't actually ANSWER the phone though, does it?
By JLF65 on 2018-10-10 20:15:21
Very good point. Charter/Spectrum calls me at least once a week trying to entice me into buying their new streaming TV service. They call from a different number in a different area code every time. I've yet to see two numbers the same, and it never shows any caller ID info beyond the number. At the moment, I've taken to simply not answering any number that I don't recognize. Period.
Permalink - Score: 3
I have a better solution:
By Megol on 2018-10-10 20:57:43
Make it criminal to harass people via phone, penalty: death for all executives and investors involved.
Not sure I'm joking...
Permalink - Score: 4
RE: I have a better solution:
By M.Onty on 2018-10-10 22:45:00
And while we're at it, pipe the holding music for every company with a call centre into the Managing Director's office, on a permanent loop.

"Your executive role is important to us..."
Permalink - Score: 3
But in what accent?
By nrlz on 2018-10-11 03:34:49
Could I choose my Google Assistant to have an Indian accent just to play around with the telemarketer?
Permalink - Score: 4
RE: Google's AI isn't necessary
By Alfman on 2018-10-11 14:14:51

> I like the idea. But it doesn't need AI, not really. Its just being used because Google spent a lot of money developing some AI, now they need to find a use for it. That's fine, but its not needed.

Ever been fooled by one of your smart-arse friends who has an answer-machine in their voice that says something like, "Oh hi... Yep. Uh huh. Yep... Oh actually I can't get the the phone right now"?

That's exactly what's going on here... users record a customized "script", and it wastes the telemarketer's time. Despite being humorous, it's remarkably effective.


After wasting the caller's time, one of the recordings ends with "Ok you know what? I have to go gargle some eggs, so I have to cut this conversation short but thanks for listening."
Not a bad way of dealing with pests. Main problem I see with it is that one doesn't necessarily know whether a call is legit or not before answering.

I've run across this channel before. It's a guy who has access to a bunch of phone numbers, so he decided to have his robot answer the calls and run through some quasi intelligent scripts. His bot dials digits to get to an operator.

It shows that you don't need a very sophisticated AI to combat telemarketing.
Permalink - Score: 4
RE: But in what accent?
By Kochise on 2018-10-11 15:25:27
Permalink - Score: 2

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