I’m not particularly interested in whether or not the Google Duplex demo was faked. (The fact that Google didn’t even think to address the ethics of the technology was far more interesting—and frightning—to me.)
But if I had to guess: Google made a real phone call, but to someone who had been prepped to follow a very specific script. That way, they were sure to get the responses they wanted. Not so much a complete fake as a contrived circumstance that didn’t demonstrate how this app would behave in the real world.
The call could very well have been to a real hair salon, even. Not hard for Google to call ahead and get someone there to answer the phone in a specific way.
All demos are lies, to some extent. Some more than others.
I guarantee if they called a hair salon in my neighborhood in Manhattan, Duplex would go off the rails fast. I didn’t need someone to cry foul to figure that out.
Call me when Duplex ships. Which could very well be never. Until then, faked or real demo—it’s not a product.