Future now | New AI promises to 'go to boring meetings for you', is this too far?

New AI promises to 'go to boring meetings for you', is this too far?

Meetings have long been a necessary, albeit often dreaded, part of the workday.

The prospect of spending hours in seemingly endless discussions, often feeling like they could have been emails, is a common complaint among busy professionals.

Yet, in 2023, it seems that an emerging technology could be the key to making these processes far more efficient. The key to transforming meeting monotony, at least according to Google, is the implementation of AI.

Google's Duet AI is brand new tech that promises to ‘revolutionise’ the way we attend meetings, even changing our appearance.

Whilst Google is seemingly the first to offer these advancements, in the post-COVID digital-centric working world, such advancements spread like wildfire. If the efficacy of such technologies proves to be viable, it could mean that AI-augmented meetings are coming to your preferred platform in the near future too.

It sounds too good to be true, but it also raises important ethical questions about how, and seemingly if, we work.

Meeting fatigue a thing of the past?

Google recently unveiled its Duet AI, designed to work with Google Meet, the company's video conferencing service. With an aim to make meetings less exhausting and more rewarding, Duet AI introduces several features to help users reclaim their precious time and attention.

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One standout feature is the 'attend for me' function, where the AI can represent you in meetings, delivering your message and ensuring you receive a recap afterward. This could be a game-changer for professionals who find themselves stuck in back-to-back meetings, freeing them to focus on other critical tasks.

Latecomers, apparently, need not fret either, as the 'summary so far' feature offers a quick snapshot of what they missed.

AI-enhanced appearance

Another aspect of Duet AI is its ability to enhance your virtual presence. The software promises AI-driven adjustments to your appearance, lighting, and sound. This technology “aims to reduce distractions and enhance communication, creating a more professional meeting environment”.

Too good to be true?

The concept of always looking your best in meetings or even not having to attend them likely sound like huge leaps forward. Yet, while these advancements in AI technology offer undeniably attractive features, they also raise some pretty huge ethical questions.

The idea of an AI surrogate attending meetings on your behalf may seem like a solution to an age-old problem, but it prompts concerns about human interaction and authenticity in the workplace.

Sure, if one individual is unable to attend, yet can be represented in some form, this is efficient. However, meetings are often the key source of brainstorming and human-to-human connection. If you’re represented by an AI, it will never be able to give your insight or feedback in discussions.

In addition, if everyone in the meeting uses an AI proxy, what’s the point in the meeting? No insight can be gained in an endless loop of AI bouncing regurgitated automated replies around.

There's also the issue of privacy and data security. AI-powered systems, especially those attending meetings and generating summaries, have access to sensitive corporate information. Protecting this data from potential breaches is paramount, and whilst the technology is still in an early stage, this may mean that data is more vulnerable.

Additionally, the use of AI to modify one's appearance in virtual meetings may lead to questions about authenticity and transparency. Is it ethical to present an idealised version of oneself, potentially misleading colleagues or clients?

So, what’s the verdict on Google's Duet AI, and any similar emerging technologies? Yes, they undeniably offer a glimpse into the future of work, where technology streamlines mundane tasks and enhances productivity.

However, its adoption must be guided by a thoughtful consideration of ethical implications.

As businesses embrace these AI-powered tools, they should establish clear guidelines and ethical frameworks. Transparency in the use of AI for personal appearance adjustments is crucial, and employees should be informed about the technology's capabilities and limitations.

The ethical use of AI in meetings lies in striking a balance between efficiency and authenticity. While AI can undoubtedly improve productivity, it's essential to ensure that human connection and transparency are not sacrificed in the process. The future of work is undeniably evolving, and it's up to us to navigate this new terrain with ethics and efficiency in mind.

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