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Google Duplex is less creepy assistant and more autofill on steroids

first_img 0 Jul 10 • How to get Android 10 right now Post a comment See All Now playing: Watch this: Mobile Google Alphabet Inc. reading • Google Duplex is less creepy assistant and more autofill on steroids Tags Aug 12 • Google will ask you to migrate your Nest account soon: Here’s what you need to know 3:03center_img Jul 24 • Nest Hub Max: Google’s 10-inch Assistant smart display costs $230, debuts Sept. 9 Google Duplex expands beyond phone calls and can book… Share your voice Google Duplex’s new update is like autofill on steroids. James Martin/CNET Last year, Google stoked intense controversy when it announced Duplex, a technology that uses eerily human-sounding artificial intelligence software to book restaurant reservations and hair appointments. Immediately, the project spurred a debate over ethics in artificial intelligence and generated fear over a robot’s ability to deceive people.Now Google is unveiling its follow up — and it’s a lot less disturbing. At the company’s I/O developer conference on Tuesday, the search giant announced an update to Duplex called “Duplex on the Web” that’ll allow it to make more types of bookings. Now it will also be able to handle car rentals and movie tickets. Aug 26 • Android Q has a name: Android 10. Here’s how you’ll use it But this one doesn’t involve speech-mimicking robots that spark debate over AI ethics. It’s basically like autofill on steroids. It automates the process of filling out forms you’d find on the mobile web.Here’s how it works: You’d say something like, “Hey Google, get me a rental car from National for my next trip.” The Assistant then pulls up National’s website on your phone and starts filling out the fields in real time.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. The system fills out the form by using data culled from your calendar, Gmail inbox and Chrome autofill (like your credit card information and login info). The update will launch later this year on Android phones.The new Duplex announcement is much tamer than last year’s debut, which freaked out audiences from the very moment Google CEO Sundar Pichai presented the demo. The artificial intelligence software is patterned after 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.The tech brought to life a vision of what a voice assistant could sound like in the future: Natural and lifelike, instead of the semirobitic, disembodied voice you hear coming from a Google Home or Amazon Echo today.The demo immediately raised flags for AI experts, industry watchers and consumers, who worried about the ethics of creating robots that could fool people into thinking they were talking to other humans. Google later said it would build in disclosures so people would know they were talking to automated software. Now the feature is available on both Android phones and iPhones, in 43 states. Still, the visceral backlash was a key moment for Google, Scott Huffman, head of engineering for the Google Assistant, told me earlier this year. “The strength of the reaction surprised me,” he said. “It made it clear to us how important those societal questions are going forward.”The new update also redefines how Google is thinking of Duplex. It’s not just the name of the search giant’s human-sounding AI. It’s more of a class of software that helps with performing tasks, and for now that’s booking — whether it’s over the phone, on the web or somewhere else in the future. “The way we think about Duplex, in broad strokes, it’s a model of technology that allows us to automate tasks,” Manuel Bronstein, vice president of product for the Assistant, said in an interview last week. “It just happens to be that the first task that we showed to automate was making a phone call to a restaurant.”Originally published at 10:25 a.m. PT.  Google I/O 2019 • Google I/O 2019last_img read more

US politicians condemn taxavoiding PfizerAllergan deal

first_imgU.S. politicians condemned Pfizer Inc’s deal with Allergan Plc as a tax dodge on Monday, bringing another round of hand-wringing in Washington over the corporate tax code, though legislative action before 2017 is unlikely.Democrats heaped the most criticism on the New York-based drug maker, with Hillary Clinton accusing Pfizer of using legal loopholes to avoid its “fair share” of taxes in a deal that she said “will leave U.S. taxpayers holding the bag.”The front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination said she will propose steps to prevent more inversions, but she did not provide details. “We cannot delay in cracking down on inversions that erode our tax base,” said the ex U.S. secretary of state and former New York senator in a statement.Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who has called for a corporate tax overhaul, called the deal “disgusting” in comments to news website Business Insider.Pfizer is doing the largest inversion deal of all time. In a $160-billion transaction, it plans to move its tax address from the United States to Ireland, if only on paper, by buying and merging into Allergan, a smaller, Dublin-based competitor.The combined company will be called Pfizer and will be run by Pfizer’s CEO, with executive management staying in New York and extensive operations across the United States, but it will no longer be taxed as a U.S. company.More than 50 similar deals have been done over three decades by well-known companies such as Medtronic Plc, Fruit of the Loom and Ingersoll Rand Plc. Congressional researchers have estimated inversions, left unchecked, will cost the U.S. Treasury nearly $20 billion in the next 10 years.The White House declined to comment on Pfizer’s deal, but a spokesman told reporters in a briefing that Congress should take action to prevent more such transactions.The U.S. Treasury Department last week unveiled new rules to clamp down on inversions, its second attempt to do so since a wave of deals peaked in September 2014. But the latest rules amounted to tweaks of existing law and will not impede the Pfizer-Allergan transaction, tax experts said.Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, said the deal “would allow another major American corporation to hide its profits overseas.”Perhaps anticipating the deal would draw fire, Pfizer CEO Ian Read sent a letter on Monday to senior senators.The letter said, “We will maintain our global operational headquarters in New York City. At the time we close the transaction, we will have over 40,000 employees across 25 states. We will be gaining greater access to resources that will enable us to make significant investments in the U.S.”Pfizer holds about $74 billion in profits offshore that, thanks to another loophole, it has not brought into the United States to avoid paying the taxes due under America’s worldwide corporate tax system. As an Irish-domiciled company, it will have less costly access to those funds.Representative Tom Price, one of few congressional Republicans to comment on Monday, said in a statement that more Treasury regulations will not solve the inversions problem. “The only real solution to curbing inversions is tax reform,” he said.But Congress, divided over fiscal issues, is widely seen as unlikely to tackle a tax overhaul before the 2016 elections.”Pfizer built their business on the back of our research and development tax incentives, our federally supported medical research, our skilled workforce, and our infrastructure,” said Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro in a statement.”We cannot continue to allow Pfizer and other corporations to pretend that they are American while reaping the benefits this country has to offer, yet claiming to be another nationality when the tax bill comes,” she said.last_img read more

EC directs FIR to be filed against Gautam Gambhir for holding rally

first_imgSunny Deol joins BJP; likely to contest Lok Sabha elections from GurdaspurIBTimes INBJP’s Lok Sabha candidate from East Delhi, Gautam Gambhir during a roadshow ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi on April 26, 2019.IANSTrouble seems to be following cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir after an FIR was filed against him for holding a rally without taking prior permission.The FIR was filed by the Delhi Police under the direction of the Election Commission for Gambhir violating the Moral code of Conduct of the elections. The election rally was held in Jungpura on April 25, Thursday, according to reports.Gambhir is one of the newest members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and will be contesting from the East Delhi constituency. He was inducted into the party in March in the presence of Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.Aitishi, Gambhir’s rival in the East Delhi constituency, called Gambhir out on Twitter after the FIR was filed against him. She tweeted, “First, Discrepancies in nomination papers. Then, Criminal offence of having 2 voter IDs. Now, FIR for illegal rally. My question to @GautamGambhir: When you don’t know the rules, why play the game? (sic).” However, this is not the only controversy which has followed the former cricketer. Atishi had earlier filed a criminal complaint against him for holding two voter ID cards for two separate constituencies, which is illegal. She filed the complaint at the Tis Hazara court in Delhi. She alleged that Gambhir had the voter’s ID cards for Karol Bagh and Rajinder Nagar.Possessing two voter ID cards is in direct violation of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and if Gambhir is found guilty, he will face one year jail time. His hearing will take place on May 1.Earlier this week, both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party had called for the disqualification of Gambhir over an alleged problem in his nomination papers. However, their claims were rubbished by the polling officer who said that there is “substantial compliance” in his papers and his nomination will be accepted, reports NDTV.Gambhir’s nomination exposed the fact that he is the richest candidate to be fielded in Delhi with Rs 147 crore worth of movable and immovable assets.last_img read more