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Google Duplex AI to provide data on business opening hours in the UK during coronavirus

Google Duplex AI is arriving in the UK to help provide clarity on business opening times during the coronavirus pandemic.

The tech giant's phone assistant Duplex is contacting businesses across the UK to ask what their business hours are amid the global health crisis, which has caused many businesses to close completely or limit their opening hours.

The Duplex AI will then use the responses to update company listings shown on Google Search and Google Maps, so the public can have accurate information when searching for local businesses.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai wrote in a blog post that Google was planning to start using Duplex "where possible" to contact businesses about opening times.

The company confirmed to the BBC that it was being rolled out in the UK for the first time for that reason, but users in the UK won't yet be able to take advantage of other Duplex AI features such as making restaurant bookings and other reservations.

As of the time of writing, it is unclear how many UK businesses will receive calls from Duplex, or how many have already.

Duplex was first demonstrated at Google's annual I/O developer conference in May 2018, and can place phone calls for users in which the robot AI calls a business to make a booking on behalf of the user.

The recipient is told at the start of the call they are speaking to a robot, and businesses can opt out of receiving calls by telling the AI to stop calling, or to remove them from the list.

The AI can also bookings online via websites like OpenTable and Yelp.

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