Did Google Assistant Pass the Turing Test?

Simon Eskow eCommerce articles Leave a Comment

Google Assistant knocked a lot of people’s socks off at the company’s recent developers conference. CEO Sundar Pichai shared a recorded phone exchange between a merchant and Google Assistant. If you haven’t seen the demo by now, check it out. The AI wasn’t just intelligently responsive, it came off as a real human being. Some saw it as a sign that Google just passed the Turing Test.

The Google Assistant Call Heard Around the World

The fact that Google Assistant made an appointment over the phone with a hairstylist was impressive enough. First, it interpreted the syntax of informal conversation. Then, when faced with an obstacle, it negotiated with its human counterpart to finalize an appointment. What impressed most people, however, were the “hmms” and other non-lexical conversational fillers. In other words, Assistant talks just like us.

The Turing Test

Alan Turing conceived of the test to evaluate a machine’s ability to demonstrate intelligent behavior indistinguishable from that of a human being. In such a test, an evaluator would judge conversations between a machine and a human. In short, if that judge couldn’t say which was which, the machine passed. This, not coincidentally, was on Google’s mind as they developed the technology behind that Google Assistant phone call.

The Possibilities

The Google Assistant demo brings effective AI closer to everyday reality, and tech-savvy consumers will eat it up. The majority of 5,000 surveyed smartphone shoppers, for example, expect everyone will have a personal shopping assistant by 2020. With AI indistinguishable from human beings, consumers will effectively have a shopping consultant in their pocket. This is potentially good new for retailers: an AI-driven sales channel that understands what a consumer wants, and connects them with the right brand.

AI and Cin7

Cin7 is also beginning to develop AI for Cin7. The goal is “to do the thinking for you” in managing products in your supply chain. With so much data at its disposal, Cin7 can make recommendations like what products to sell and where, what products to order, and more. Keep your eyes open for more on this in the future.


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