Tag: Google

Weird interaction with Google, was it Duplex?

For a few weeks I’ve been receiving this email from Google:

birth control

My first question is why is birth control an issue. Is Google limiting the advertisement of birth control? Why? Did we somehow slipped into the 19th century and nobody told me?

My second question was… how could they think I have anything to do with birth control. I guess that was nothing more than AI failing miserably, so, I decided to go and fix it. The important caveat here is that I haven’t run any ads in months, maybe more than a year.

I click the Fix button and and it took me to a black page with the “Unknown Business” title. There was no way to text support, so, when the emails got annoying enough, I called them.

The support guy was nice, but he couldn’t do much about it. I explained that I wasn’t running any ads and I didn’t plan on running any for now, but maybe in the future. He told me to ignore the emails.  I asked if there was a way to stop them and he told me to search for an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. That’s not what I meant, I want to fix the problem. All right, that was enough time on the phone, I’ll just ignore the emails.

Now is when it got weirder. The support guy said that his supervisor was there and wanted to talk to me. Ok… Click! Someone else starts speaking:

Supervisor: Hello Hos (their way of pronouncing José), did so-and-so answer your query today?

I’m always careful here. He didn’t solve the problem but I’m sure it wasn’t his fault. Most of the times I have an issue, it’s their system being broken and a support specialist shouldn’t be punished for that.

Me: Sort-of…

And as I was trying to explain the situation, the supervisor interrupt me:

Supervisor: Ok then. If you have any other questions, feel free to call us between 9 am and 5 pm.

Click! Hung up. Wow… that was rude… and odd. And now I’m thinking, did I just talk to Duplex and it failed at managing my answer?

When it comes to technology such as Duplex, my take is this: it’s going to happen no matter what, fighting it is futile, let’s try to figure out how to make the most out of it. But I have to admit having interacted with what I suspect was Duplex gives me an odd feeling (even if it was it). It makes me want to rebel, it makes me want to test it the next time I call to try to figure out if it’s a human or not. This is obviously useless; the only thing that matters is getting my issue resolved. What concerns me here is that if a technology-loving person such as myself is getting this strong reaction, how will the general population react?

I think we are going to have some interesting growing pains in the next couple of decades.

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Remove your eyes before coming in

I took my parents on a virtual tour of London. It’s the second time I do it and I still can’t believe this actually works. We live in the future.

This is how I do it: using my phone, an HTC Desire, I call my parents via Skype and I enable video. This is over 3G, while walking the streets of London. I even boarded a bus and showed them how it works. It’s a lot of fun.

After showing them the Covent Garden market, I went into the second biggest Apple store and then it happened. A guard approached me and told me not to record video in the store, to what I replied that I wasn’t recording video. I told him I was Skyping. He looked at the phone and said “that’s video” to what I replied: “well, Skype can do video”. “But are you recording?” he kept asking. No, I’m not. I unplugged the headphones so he could say “Hi” to my parents. The security guard smiled and told me to go on.

First issue: he didn’t ask me whether my parents were recording or not and even I couldn’t know for sure. Now I’m wondering why is it wrong to record video but not to show a live stream to other people. I think the answer is rather simple: nobody thought of a live stream yet. The same way taking video recordings wasn’t forbidden anywhere at some point, live streaming is not forbidden yet.

I wish that instead of awkwardly holding my cellphone, I could be using a camera mounted on my head. There’s nothing new about that concept, but with products like Google Glass we might live in a world where almost everybody have an internet-connected, interactive, head-mounted camera quite soon. Are they going to ask everybody to remove their Google Glasses just in case they are recording or streaming?

What happens when something like the Google Glasses are embedded into my own glasses, the ones that correct my vision. Are they going to ask me to remove those? What happens when it is embedded directly into my eye. Are they going to ask me to remove my eyes too? Maybe they could say it’s my fault and treat me like people with full body tattoos. What if the interactive internet-connected device is the actual eyes that allow a blind person to see? Are they going to discriminate them too? Because that day is coming and the world is going to change.