For better or worse, Google Assistant can do it all. From mundane tasks like turning on your lights and setting reminders to convincingly mimicking human speech patterns, the AI helper is so capable it's scary. Its latest (unofficial) ability, though, is a bit more sinister. Artist Alexander Reben recently taught Assistant to fire a gun. Fortunately, the victim was an apple, not a living being. The 30-second video, simply titled "Google Shoots," shows Reben saying "OK Google, activate gun." Barely a second later, a buzzer goes off, the gun fires, and Assistant responds "Sure, turning on the gun." On the surface, the footage is underwhelming -- nothing visually arresting is really happening. But peel back the layers even a little, and it's obvious this project is meant to provoke a conversation on the boundaries of what AI should be allowed to do.
As Reben told Engadget, "the discourse around such a(n) apparatus is more important than its physical presence." For this project he chose to use Google Assistant, but said it could have been an Amazon Echo "or some other input device as well." At the same time, the device triggered "could have been a back massaging chair or an ice cream maker."
But Reben chose to arm Assistant with a gun. And given the concerns raised by Google's Duplex AI since I/O earlier this month, as well as the seemingly never-ending mass shootings in America, his decision is astute.