Google recently demoed the Google Assistant at IO2018 where it showed the Google Assistant calling up a restaurant to make a reservation.

Here is the video in question – Look for the “mm hmmm ” 🙂

A lot of people went gaga over it while some ethicists were wondering if this was ethical ( should the Google Assistant have identified itself as an AI bot and not a human before the call etc etc )

AI will evolve and some of it will be used for good and some for good – Unfortunately, it’s still early days so I guess we will have to wait and watch.

However, that video triggered an alternate use case for the Google Assistant.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend some time ago. She runs a counselling center which offers de addiction and relationship counselling sessions for individuals.

She was talking about how she was at her wits’ end because, the Google Search Ads she was running were having some unintended consequences – so much so that she was scared of answering her phone.

Turns out that her ads were attracting people, who were searching for phone sex hotlines or ‘online counselling centers’ as they are popularly known.

I was surprised to know that there are quite a few call centers running as ‘online counselling centers’ in India.

They seem to be catering to a huge demand from people in both the urban and rural hinterland who want to have phone sex ( or maybe they are just lonely and just want to talk to a member of the opposite sex )

Now imagine a call center which deploys a Google Assistant customised as an ‘online counsellor’ – Not just for phone sex but for suicide hotlines, depression counselling etc etc.

What do you think might be the ethical ramifications of such a Google Assistant Bot ?

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